Less meat – rare feat

Posted by Oliver Koll on Aug 28, 2019

Some weeks ago, the United Nations called for a change in human eating behaviour. Specifically, the organization stated that plant-based diets should replace meat to mitigate climate change*. In our #WhoCaresWhoDoes initiative we asked nearly 70K consumers around the globe about their willingness to reduce meat in order to protect the environment. We find the following:

  • Globally, reductions in reported meat consumption is still rare. On average, 56% of all respondents state they never or rarely avoid meat to save the planet. Only 16% claim that they frequently or always prefer a diet without meat.
  • Between countries we find substantial differences in stated meat reduction: The three countries where consumers hardly abstain from meat-based dishes are Czech Republic (77%), Russia (76%) and Brazil (75%).
  • On the other end of scale, the countries where most consumers claim to substitute meat for vegetarian options include Chile (39%), France (22%), Austria (20%), Sweden (20%) and China (20%).

For many consumers hamburgers, steaks or sausages are still tough to pass on. A recent study of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that dietary changes (no animal source food) would reduce global CO2 emissions by up to 8 billion tons per year, relative to the current state of changing nothing*. To set this number in context: in 2018 worldwide flights produced 895 million tons of CO2. Thus, 8 billion tons potential savings in CO2 emissions per year would justify replacing meat by vegetarian options (at least once in a while).

*Sources: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02409-7   
Countries: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, CAM, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, UK