The theory surrounding COVID-19’s effect on the meat industry seemed to have triggered Germany, who is for the first time seeing omnivores as a minority in the country. Based on the findings from a team of researchers in Berlin, Bath and Franche-Comté, those who consume meat with no restrictions are fewer than those who have changed their diets to either vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian or flexitarian.
Swapping schnitzels for salads
The survey published in the scientific journal “Foods” in September found that around 42% of respondents said they were reducing their meat consumption by adapting to a diet that focuses more on plant-based food. On the other hand, 12.7% of the respondents would “prefer not to say” or they “don’t know.”
Christopher Bryant, a psychologist at Bath University who was involved in the research, said Germany had reached a new peak in terms of their perspective on meat consumption much earlier than assumed. The study was surprising for the researchers, especially since Germany is known for its pork knuckles, schnitzels and wide variety of sausages.
Reasoning behind the dietary changes has been mainly due to animal welfare and environmental concerns. Bryant added: “The social implications [of the German numbers] here are potentially quite profound. The view that being a carnivore is ‘normal’ is part of the lay moral reasoning for continuing to eat meat. But once that is a minority view, and meat replacement options become cheaper and tastier, the trend is likely to continue in one direction.”
Although the new trend seems to be gaining popularity, Germany still remains higher in the developing world in overall meat consumption. Any expected decline is predicted to be outweighed by other developing countries becoming more and more carnivorous as their purchasing power rises, with the global meat production forecast to rise by 15% by 2027.
Nonetheless, the shift to adopting a more balanced diet was still significant, Bryant said. The survey also discovered evidence for “substantially large markets” in Germany for cultured meat grown in labs, which is expected to launch in the market earliest by 2022, if they can overcome EU’s regulations.
Large food chains are taking notice of the rising trend in Germany, with Burger King offering “plant-based nuggets” in Germany, which are produced by Dutch producer The Vegetarian Butcher. McDonalds also added a vegan burger to their menus in Germany last May, which means that Germany is potentially expected to see even greater change in their attitude toward meat consumption in the near future. Alternative meat was also found to be accepted more by agricultural and meat workers, which suggests that even those who are heavily involved in the meat industry would possibly prefer alternatives.
Have a tip or story? Get in touch with our reporters at [email protected]