Greeks among the biggest meat consumers in Europe

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Greece has the highest percentage of omnivores among 11 European countries surveyed as more than seven out of ten Greeks (73%) declare that they belong to this category, consuming up to 3.3 kg of meat per month. However, almost one in two Greeks (49%) wish to reduce meat consumption.

Consumers are also open to the possibility of trying cell culture meat (49%), but also foods that utilise protein from insects (one in four or 26%).

Furthermore, more than eight in ten omnivores (82%) agree, even though they themselves consume meat, that there are reasons to become a vegetarian, with the most important motivation being the improvement of animal treatment and the next two being health and the environment.

In this setting, the flexitarians (consumers who follow a flexible diet, with reduced meat consumption) appears as a frontrunner in the area of ​​plant-based foods and the shift that is gradually being observed towards it, whose members are mostly over 45 years old (rate 55.7%).

The above results from a study on a sample of 700 respondents, aged over 18 and under 70, which was held in June and co-sponsored by the Hellenic Vegetarian Union (HellasVeg) and the European Vegetarian Union (EVU).

The primary research was carried out by Kantar SA and the statistical analysis was done by HellasVeg.

Speaking to AMNA, the president of the Greek Association of Vegetarians, Suzana Isaakidou, pointed out that vegetarianism is expected to increase significantly in Greece in the next few years, building on a trend that was strengthened during the pandemic.

“In the last two years, with the pandemic – which led more people to a healthy diet – and the climate crisis, which highlighted intensive animal husbandry as one of the important reasons for the environmental burden, a dynamic trend for the development of vegetarianism was created in Greece as well,” she said.

“In addition, the desire and demand of the younger generations for a fairer treatment of animals contributes in this direction.

“The study shows that even omnivores think there are reasons to be a vegetarian. So when the conditions are created so that plant-based products become more attractive to consumers, then we will see the trend of vegetarianism developing rapidly.”

Greeks consume meat and dairy more often than the average European, but they eat eggs and fish/seafood about as often too. Flexitarians consume 900-1500 grams of meat monthly while omnivores more than double the amount (2250-3350 grams).

Focusing their analysis on responses indicating low and sporadic meat consumption (from zero to three times a month), the researchers found that only 7% consume meat less than once a week and only 5% dairy with similar frequency (the respective percentages for Europeans are 29% and 18%).

The flexitarians were asked about the consumption of alternative plant-based foods. Their answers show distrust towards these products and reluctance to try them.

The main reasons they do not prefer them are, as they state, the high price (35%), the not so good taste (21%), the lack of a sufficient range of options (21%), but also the concern about how healthy they are (14%).

The largest part of flexitarian consumers is found in Athens and the smallest in the islands. In Athens and mainland Greece there is another 3% who declare themselves vegan or vegetarian, with the percentage being almost zero on the islands.

This distribution can also be explained by the access to more choices of plant-based foods and alternative products that residents in Athens may have, while on the islands access to such products is more difficult.

On the other hand, a remarkable percentage of omnivorous consumers is found on the country’s islands.

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