Eaten more meat again in the Netherlands

Eaten more meat again in the Netherlands
Eaten more meat again in the Netherlands

Although meat substitutes are gaining popularity, more meat has been eaten in the Netherlands for the second year in a row. On average, 39 kilos of meat was eaten last year, a few hundred grams more than a year earlier. This is shown in an annual study by Wageningen University on behalf of animal welfare organization Wakker Dier.

Because 0.5 kilos more meat was eaten per person – total weight including carcass – the average meat consumption of a Dutch person was 39 kilos – meat without carcass – in 2019.

Between 2012 and 2017 there was a decline in meat consumption every year, but since then the figure has risen again. According to researcher Hans Dagevos, we are now at the level of 2007: “Because we have started to eat more meat again, we have canceled out the profit made in the years before.”

Catering and tourists

The fact that more burgers, steaks or chicken legs are once again eaten in the Netherlands, Dagevos explains by two things: “While some people – also called flexitarians – eat little or no meat at home, this is sometimes put aside in the catering industry. supplier and promoter of meat. “

According to him, it may also be due to the growing number of tourists. The research concerns meat that is sold in the Netherlands, so what tourists also get on their plates. The fact that the number of tourists in the Netherlands has grown in recent years also plays a role. “But that does not alter the fact that the Dutch still eat a lot of meat”, says Dagevos. “If you think that many people in the Netherlands are vegetarian, you really only look at your own bubble.”

Chicken most popular

The biggest increase was in the consumption of chicken: the Netherlands eats more than 185 million chickens every year. Dagevos thinks it has to do with the wide range and versatility of chicken meat: “And it also has the connotation that it is healthy meat, unlike red meat.”

Wakker Dier is concerned about this increase. “Everything is crying out for a reduction in meat consumption. Climate, nitrogen, deforestation, our health. And last but not least the animals themselves. An extremely worrying development,” says Anne Hilhorst of Wakker Dier.

Also for health reasons it is better not to eat too much meat. The Wheel of Five recommends no more than 500 grams of meat per week, but in reality that average is 750 grams per week. According to Dagevos, if these guidelines were to be adhered to, meat consumption would already fall to about 26 instead of 39 kilos of meat per person per year.

Global trend

If we want to reduce meat consumption, then, according to Dagevos, we can look at the supply, the alternatives and play with prices. Predictions show that things will not change very quickly. Dagevos: “Behavioral change in food is very slow, and meat appears to be strongly anchored in our food culture.”

In the rest of the world too, people are more likely to eat more than less meat. As wealth increases, it is a kind of law of nature that meat consumption increases, says Dagevos. “In the West it happened after World War II, in other parts of the world we see it happening in recent decades.”

But that the figures for 2020 will look different than usual, that seems certain. Dagevos: “Due to the closure of the catering industry and the partial halt of tourism, less meat will probably be sold in the Netherlands this year.”

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