Saying goodbye to meat? 42% of Dutchies are flexitarians

Research has found that 42% of Dutchies are flexitarians — people who sometimes eat meat but try to cut back and choose plant-based alternatives more often.

This research was carried out as part of the EU’s Smart Protein project. Of the 10 European countries surveyed, you guessed it — the Netherlands has the most flexitarians, the NOS reports.

Fewer omnivores, and fewer vegetarians

At 48% the Netherlands also had the fewest omnivores — people who often eat meat. Given this statistic, there were surprisingly few Dutch participants in the survey who indicated that they were vegetarian (5%) and vegan (2%). Clearly, the flexitarian lifestyle is king — we love balance! 👑

In contrast, Poland had the most omnivores at 68% — that’s a lot of meat! 🥩🍗 Meanwhile, Germany (10%) and the United Kingdom (9%) had the most people calling themselves vegetarian or vegan.

Soy latte anyone?

The research also showed that one in three Dutchies drinks a vegetable alternative to dairy milk, such as soy or oat milk at least weekly. 🥛 Meat substitutes appeared equally as popular with Dutchies. For us, the verdict is still out on vegan chicken though….

However, many Dutch people don’t eat meat and dairy substitutes because they find them too expensive. Dutchies also proved less willing than other Europeans to pay more for meat substitutes than for meat.

“If you still eat meat every day, you are in the minority”

Thijs Geijer, an economist at ING research studies meat consumption in the Netherlands. He tells the NOS that while “many people indicate that they want to eat less meat, actually doing so is sometimes difficult in practice.”

This is because of a lack of choice, especially in restaurants, the fact that many people think that meat and dairy substitutes don’t taste good enough, and because of resistance on the part of partners and family members. I definitely don’t think I could eat a cauliflower steak while my partner ate sirloin. 🍴🥩

Despite this, flexitarianism is well established in the Netherlands, with Pablo Moleman of ProVeg saying that “If you still eat meat every day, you are in the minority.”

Better for the environment 🌎

The production of meat and dairy generally releases more C02 than the production of plant-based foods. As a result, the European Commission is trying to encourage people to eat more plant-based foods and less meat.

READ MORE | Dutch ministry omits advice to eat less meat from its sustainability campaign

What are your thoughts on the number of flexitarians in the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Tina Dawson/Unsplash

Jen Lorimer 🇿🇼
An avid tea drinker, Jen was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She moved to Utrecht in 2017 to pursue her history degree. She loves people-watching, canoeing the Utrecht canals, and observing how the Dutch come alive in summer. Having been traumatised by a Dutch circle party, Jen wants to help equip other internationals with tips and tricks to survive and thrive in this wonderful flat country.


  1. I have ulcerative colitis. I cannot eat plants or I have the joy of continuous pain for at least 3 days while the insoluble fiber sits in my gut. I’m therefore carnivore for medical reasons.

    But in order to get to the point where I was sure that I could eat this way, I had to do a lot of research. That includes understanding the biology of my disease and the way humans eat. What I’ve come to realise is that humans *NEED* meat to be healthy. There is a reason that the the food doesn’t taste good enough: it’s not our natural diet. In the same way that you wouldn’t feed your dog meat substitutes, we humans need it and our tastebuds prove that.

    This actually breaks my heart because agriculture only accounts for a small percentage of GHG emissions, when compared to the bigger picture. The numbers range from 9% to 20%, depending on which studies you look at. We should be looking at fossil fuels rather than farming.

    And it gets worse. Despite the propaganda that plants are healthier, they really aren’t. They’re less bio-available when we digest them, they contain anti-nutrients (chemicals that block absorption of other nutrients) and they contain fewer nutrients than meat. Meat even contains loads of polyphenols because cows eat plants!

    If you go look up Doctor Georgia Ede, you’ll see that she’s a psychiatrist that advocates for more meat to prevent mental health issues. She’s got presentations on YouTube that are worth watching. Harvard just released an initial study to show that carnivores (2000+) reported that their health improved by avoiding plants. Dr Miki Ben-Dor released an anthropology paper showing that humans were mostly carnivore and fell back on plants in times of scarcity.

    Humans should eat meat and we should rather find ways to keep the one food that keeps us healthy. There’s regenerative farming methods. Scientists are finding ways to lower and even capture methane. In the same way that people are worried about the rain forest being destroyed, popular culture is destroying the source of our health.


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