Flexibility in the frequency of meat consumption: empirical evidence from The Netherlands

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Despite a worldwide trend of expanding appetite for meat, scrutiny reveals that high levels of absolute meat consumption and high percentages of flexitarian consumers, who abstain from eating meat regularly, exist simultaneously. This article briefly examines this paradoxical combination of flexitarianism among Dutch food consumers in times of a dominant carnivorous food culture. Two representative surveys show that significant numbers of respondents declare that they eat no meat at dinner time for several days per week. Flexitarianism amid paramount carnivorism also emerges from consumers’ reactions to questions about both past changes in meat eating and intended future change. Considerable percentages of consumers indicate that their meat consumption has reduced and express their intention to mitigate meat eating in the foreseeable future. At the same time, large majorities of consumers report no change in their meat consumption pattern during the last year and an intention to continue this pattern next year. The presence of flexitarianism is an important phenomenon considering the economic, ethical (animal welfare) and environmental (ecological footprint) relevance of meat consumption. However, scientific and political attention on meat reduction and flexitarianism is rare in European countries but is vital in realising a more sustainable Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-45
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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