This Meat-Loving European Country is Going Vegetarian

Germany is going vegan and veggie!

(Valeria Aksakova / Shutterstock.com)

When you think of a vegetarian-friendly country, Germany probably isn’t the first nation that springs to mind. Hearty, meat-heavy dishes such as sauerbraten, bratwurst, and schnitzel are widely featured in traditional German cuisine.

But a recent study published in the scientific journal Foods shows that meat eaters are on the decline in Germany, as the nation undergoes a vegetarian revolution. Researchers from the universities of Bath and Burgundy in Germany, alongside market research group Ipsos, found that just 45 percent of Germans identify as regular meat eaters. 

A staggering 42 percent of respondents said they maintain a primarily plant-based diet, which is vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or “flexitarian”. A flexitarian diet is mostly meat-free, with occasional meat consumption. Another significant finding from the study showed an increasing acceptance of cultured meat, also known as lab-grown meat, with 58 percent of Germans expressing a willingness to try it.

Christopher Bryant, a Bath University researcher and one of the authors of the study, told The Guardian, “The social implications [of the study] here are potentially quite profound.

“The view that being a carnivore is ‘normal’ is part of the lay moral reasoning for continuing to eat meat,” he said. “But once that is a minority view, and meat replacement options become cheaper and tastier, the trend is likely to continue in one direction.”

According to German news site DW, the nation has the highest rate of vegetarianism in Europe, including 1 million Germans who report as following a vegan lifestyle. German schools are required to provide a daily vegetarian option for students at mealtimes.

Scores of German restaurateurs have picked up on the demand for vegan and vegetarian options, including the popular Vincent Vegan chain. The restaurant gives Germany’s favorite fast-food dishes a meatless makeover. Vincent Vegan’s version of currywurst, a classic German guilty pleasure, tweaks the traditional recipe of sliced up sausages, ketchup, and curry powder. The result is a 100 percent vegan dish.

Christian Kuper, founder of Vincent Vegan, told The Guardian that he left a career in consulting to start the restaurant because he believed that the vegan food industry had major money-making potential.

Kuper sensed the general public would be receptive to a vegan fast-food option that wasn’t tucked away in a hipster neighborhood, so he chose to set up shop in various shopping malls.

“We wanted to go straight into the mainstream, because we knew that is where the demand will be,” he explained. The restaurants were an immediate success, and Vincent Vegan currently has four locations in Berlin and Hamburg malls.

Adopting a plant-based diet has myriad benefits, both for physical health and the environment. Agriculture is responsible for 13 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions according to the World Resources Institute. Even if you are reluctant to completely cut out meat, going meatless just a few times a week can make a big difference.

As societies around the globe struggle with the health consequences of unhealthy diets and climate change, to which farming is a major contributor, Germany’s shift away from meat consumption is a welcome development. 

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