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Thread: Meat consumption in the west - a mystery wrapped inside an enigma

  1. #1

    Default Meat consumption in the west - a mystery wrapped inside an enigma

    After a slow but steady 30-year increase, per capita meat consumption in Sweden has dropped sharply for the second year in a row. It has been dropping steadily in Germany for around a decade. The UK saw a pretty substantial decrease in the first half of this decade, and it's difficult to say whether meat consumption has stabilized or is continuing to decrease.

    The Swedish survey findings reflect what I've seen at work, at grocery stores, restaurants and fast-food chains, etc: most of the staff at my clinic appear to have at least one--usually more--vegetarian lunch per week, and many also eat vegetarian meals for dinner (most have always eaten meatless breakfasts); there's been a veritable explosion of increasingly affordable vegetarian products at every major grocery store chain, in every price category, coupled with a rapid proliferation of recipes (in magazines, on TV, on the internet etc) for affordable vegetarian meals; even though we're still suffering through the age of the grill-obsessed hipster, regular restaurants are offering more (and more popular) vegetarian dishes alongside their traditional meaty options, while fast-food chains have brought out a plethora of vegetarian and even vegan options that genuinely taste good while containing 25-30% fewer calories. At home, we've nearly halved our meat consumption, mostly by using much less meat per serving (but also by eating more fish). The food tastes great, we spend less money (although tbf much of our meat consumption was wild game already), and I've been able to explore many new ideas in cooking.

    But, having browsed through some of the available data, I was struck by how difficult it is to get useful, contextualized information on trends in meat consumption in the west. Variations in quality, sample population, methodology & definitions can lead to estimates varying by as much as +/- 50%, making transnational comparisons more difficult. It is even more difficult to find analyses that take economic trends & disparities into account. I think that, in Sweden at least, the decreased meat consumption reflects a genuine shift in public opinion and preferences, initially motivated by health & environmental concerns but now sustained by social norms and a much more permissive market. If nothing else, it's been very fun to see what this shift has done for creativity in cooking, and I look forward to seeing where it goes
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  2. #2

    Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are new start-ups worth reading about. As is the growth in pea protein powder (vs soy bean).

    It's interesting how they're trying to mimic the flavor and texture of meat, to attract the meat-eater, but many vegetarians/vegans don't like it because it tastes like meat.

    Also, IKEA meatballs

  3. #3
    This is total speculation, but perhaps consumer focus on quality (and awareness on the perils of quantity) coupled with environmental stigma is having an impact for a substantial-enough subset of the population? I certainly cut-down a lot when I was introduced to the environmental ramifications years ago.

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