Skip to content
Subscriber Only

We’ll Always Eat Meat. But More of It Will Be ‘Meat’: QuickTake

Video player cover image
Meatless Burger Craze Shows No Signs of Slowing Down
Updated on

More and more people are choosing to eat less meat. Concerns about the environment, personal health and animal welfare are driving the change. The number of people committing to a strictly plant-based, or vegan, diet has risen in rich countries, as have the ranks of “flexitarians” -- only occasional meat eaters. The trend is spawning an expanding array of meat substitutes, both plant-based and a new high-tech generation of products grown from animal cells in laboratories. Investors including Bill Gates are betting that the appetite for meat alternatives will mushroom.

Actually, no. Overall meat consumption is increasing globally, buoyed by rising affluence in developing countries including China and Brazil. At the same time, wealthy nations such as France, Germany, Spain and Sweden are cutting back on meat as attitudes shift. In the U.S., the biggest beef eater, per capita consumption is actually growing. But people are saying they want to cut back: Two-thirds of consumers said they had reduced their meat intake in a 2015 survey, while a Gallup poll estimated there were 3 million more vegans in 2018 than in 2012. One third of Britons have scaled down or stopped meat purchases altogether. Germans began lowering their meat consumption in 2011.