Dutch eat less meat, but coronavirus closures are the likely cause

Photo: Depositphotos.com
Photo: Depositphotos.com

The Dutch ate less meat last year but that is mainly down to restaurants closing during the coronavirus crisis rather than a change in behaviour, according to researchers at Wageningen University.

Last year, people in the Netherlands consumed the equivalent of 75.9 kilos of meat (dead carcas weight) per head of the population, down two kilos on 2019. About half the total is made up of bones and fat, 25% is meat such as steak and burgers, and a 25% meat products for on bread.

‘We have been looking at the figures since 2005 and we have never seen such a large decline,’ said WUR researcher Hans Dagevos. However, the decline is mainly due to the closure of the hospitality industry for several months, he said.

Animal rights group Wakker Dier, which commissioned the research, said it was pleased to see people had eaten less meat, even though there is not a real trend.

Nevertheless the figures show the Dutch ate an average of 730 grammes of meat and meat products a week, and that is still 46% more than advised by the government.

‘We should be eating less meat because of our health,’ Wakker Dier spokeswoman Anne Hilhorst said. ‘And that is without the impact [of meat] on pollution, the climate, deforestation – and the millions of animals that suffer.’


In June, national statistics agency CBS said four in five Dutch adults do not eat meat every day and 45% eat meat a maximum of four times a week.

Around a third of adults say they reduced their meat consumption last year and 0.5% stopped eating it altogether.

It was the first time the CBS had measured meat consumption and over 3,600 people took part in the survey.

In total, 95% of Dutch adults still eat meat, some 3% eat fish not meat, 2% are vegetarians and 0.4% avoid animal products altogether, the CBS found. Other research projects have suggested the percentage of vegetarians in the Netherlands is far higher.

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