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Empathy for animals main reason Spaniards cut meat consumption

provegBiggest ever survey finds veggie population mainly female, secular and under 35

The largest survey ever carried out on the eating habits of the Spanish flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan population reveals the main reason for eating less or no meat and dairy products is out of empathy for animals, followed by sustainability reasons.

Social networks and documentaries are found to be the biggest drivers of this dietary change.

The survey involved 2,749 people and was carried out by food awareness organisation, ProVeg Spain, and VeganaGal, a vegan and sustainable fair in Galicia. 

"The data resulting from this survey not only helps to gain an in-depth understanding of why people reduce or cut out meat altogether, but it also makes it easier for governments and the private sector to better create and direct their actions to meet the needs of this increasingly relevant segment of the Spanish population who are revolutionizing the food system", Verónica Larco, communications director of ProVeg Spain, said.

In general, the survey found that the veggie population in Spain is young, but not as young as one might think. 

  • 44% of the flexitarian population is between 25 and 34 years old. The second largest age group (27%) is aged 35 to 44.
  • Also, 44% of the vegetarian population is also concentrated in the age range of 25 to 34 years, but the second largest group (29%) is aged between 18 and 24 years.
  • Within the vegan population, the group between 25 and 34 years is also the largest (again 44%). Surprisingly, the second largest group (25%) is older, being aged between 35 to 44 years. People between 18 and 24 years old only account for 17% of the vegan population.

The Spanish flexi and veggie population is still predominantly female. 83% of flexitarians, 87% of vegetarians and 79% of vegans identify as female.

Although it is generally thought that eating a plant-based diet is something modern and for "city people", the survey reveals that the veggie population is proportionally highly represented in the rural environment. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA), only 16% of people living in Spain do so in a rural environment. According to the data collected in this survey, 21% of flexitarians, 23% vegetarians and 26% vegans live in towns or villages. 

"It is wonderful to be able to break the myth that a plant-based diet is only a thing for city people and to see that eating a healthier, more sustainable and animal-friendly diet is possible regardless of the environment," says Tamara Alonso, representative of VeganaGal.

The Spanish flexi and veggie population is quite secular compared to the general society. According to the Ferrer i Guàrdia Foundation and its report on the evolution of religiosity and secularism in Spain, non-believers account for 37.1% compared to 58.8% who considered themselves Catholic and 2.5% believers of other confessions. Taking this data into account, it may be surprising to see that 77% of flexitarians are non-believers, as are 84% of vegetarians and 82% of vegans. 

Of those surveyed, 30% of people had been following their diet for 1-3 years, 25% for 3-5 years and 20% for 5-10 years. A total of 17% of survey respondents said they changed their diet less than a year ago.

Among vegetarians, 22% had previously had a flexitarian diet. Among vegans, 42% had previously adopted a vegetarian diet, and 13% a flexitarian diet. 

Therefore, ProVeg believes it is to be expected that the Spanish vegan and vegetarian population will grow in the near future. In fact, when asked if they consider adopting a vegan diet as a goal, more than half of the people who follow a flexitarian diet and vegetarian answered in the affirmative.

Drivers for change

The biggest driver when making the decision to eat a (more) plant-based diet is social networks and the information found on them. The second biggest factor is documentaries, movies or series. Far behind, we see the family and friendship environment also as a decisive factor.

Although it cannot yet be considered a consumption habit, with regard to the position regarding cultivated products (from cellular agriculture), 35% agree or totally agree with them, and 29% of the people who have participated in the survey are neither in favor nor against. This indicates that the opposition or an opinion against cultivated foods is a minority (18%) within the veggie population in Spain (18% of participants preferred not to answer the question). www.proveg.com