On average, the Dutch ate less meat in 2020 than in the previous year, says Wageningen University & Research.

The university carried out research on behalf of animal welfare organization Wakker Dier.

Is this a good start or do we still have a long way to go?

It is still a large mountain of meat that we as Dutch people got rid of on average last year: 75.9 kilos per person, Wageningen University calculated on behalf of Wakker Dier.

That mountain is slightly lower than in 2019 when we still consumed 77.8 kilos.

Our meat consumption has not been this small since 2005.

Good news for people who are committed to getting people to eat more vegetables and less meat, but are they cheering yet?

The decrease is mainly due to the fact that we did not eat thick steaks in restaurants last year.

And the restaurants are open again.

"There has never been such a sharp drop, but this outcome is in line with our expectations," said Pablo Moleman of ProVeg, which is committed to a rapid protein transition.

"If it had been different, we would have been perplexed. It confirms a suspicion we had, namely that the closure of the catering industry had an impact on meat consumption."

Is there something to celebrate?

"Yes, it is wonderful to see this decrease. We have calculated that we have eaten more than seven million animals less: 88,980 pigs, 6,976,000 chickens, 20,639 cows and 83,048 sheep and goats."

“The portions in restaurants are often unhealthy.”

Pablo Moleman, ProVeg

The decrease is therefore due to the long-term closure of the catering industry during the corona lockdowns.

This does not mean that ProVeg secretly wishes for the catering industry to close again.

"Supermarkets naturally have much more room to accommodate innovations than restaurants, but we do call on restaurants to keep innovating. People also go to the hospitality industry to try new things, such as quinoa salad or cauliflower steak."

Also think about the portions, says Moleman.

"The portions in restaurants are often unhealthy. If a restaurant puts a tomahawk steak of 1,100 grams on the menu, I think you are sending the wrong signal. That is no longer healthy and sustainable."

Making portions smaller saves costs

Try something new, a cauliflower steak or quinoa salad, tips Pablo Moleman of ProVeg.

Try something new, a cauliflower steak or quinoa salad, tips Pablo Moleman of ProVeg.

Photo: Getty Images

In terms of meat volume, something can be done without customers noticing, Moleman suspects.

"There's quite a bit of slack in that. If you think the health of your customers is important, you adjust the size. This also saves costs."

That is exactly what Floris de Degree van de Vegetarierenbond argues for.

Like Moleman, he speaks of "good news", with the note that the catering industry lends a hand.

"You can change the portion size tomorrow. It's a win-win, because it's also cheaper. You don't have to throw away as much."

The vegan options are also allowed on the menu in large numbers.

"And higher on the map", De Graad tips.

"So that plant-based becomes the norm. That - if you want - you can also include meat."

So it's not finished yet, says De Graad.

"It can go to zero. But the trend is good and that is encouraging."

“Consumption can be reduced to zero, because you can also eat healthy with a vegetarian diet.”

Lilou van Lieshout, expert sustainable food Nutrition Center

Lilou van Lieshout, sustainable food expert at the Nutrition Center, is also pleased.

"It is certainly nice to see that consumers have eaten less meat. We hope that consumers will continue to eat less meat at home and not compensate for that in the catering industry. And that they occasionally choose a plant-based alternative."

More plants, less meat is also the motto of the Nutrition Center.

"Consumption can be reduced to zero, because you can also eat healthy with a vegetarian diet," says Van Lieshout.

"It is important to get enough vitamins, proteins and iron, so we do recommend eating egg and other animal products. And lean white meat is also part of a healthy diet."

This does not apply to red meat and processed meat such as sausage and cold cuts.

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