While a lot of men consider eating meat one of life’s pleasures, Canadians are increasingly eliminating it from their diet, according to a new study by Dalhousie University.
“More and more Canadians are considering reducing the amount of protein from meat in their diets,” said lead author Sylvain Charlebois, food policy professor at Dalhousie University. “Canada’s new food guide will be released in the months to come, and advances in technology have given consumers more protein choices. We wanted to learn more about what Canadians think about eating meat and plant-based alternatives, and how willing they are to reduce their meat consumption and consider new types of proteins.”
Currently, 6.4 million Canadians restrict the amount of meat they consume even though most believe meat can be part of a healthy diet. A little less than half of the study participants admitted to eating meat daily, while an additional 40 percent said they ate meat once or twice a week.
Just over half said they’d be amenable to reducing meat in their diet, while one-third said they’d be willing to do so in the next six months.
The largest number of meat eaters reside in Atlantic Canada, while those who are least likely to eat meat are Ontarians, according to the study.
The study found that men, particularly older males, enjoy having a juicy steak and other meat-based meals and consider it one of life’s pleasures. Women, meanwhile, are more concerned about animal welfare. Women were also more likely to agree that other sources of protein can replace meat in one’s diet.
Younger and more educated study participants were more likely to eat plant-based alternatives than their older counterparts. Those who opted to follow a vegan diet also skewed young. Sixty-three percent of vegans surveyed were under 38 years old.
Is eating meat a fundamental right? Younger people were more likely to believe that statement than older ones.
Many Canadians aren’t interested in consuming lab-grown meat and insect-based proteins; however, young respondents are open to the idea of lab-grown meat.
“No matter where you are or who you are, you have to eat and we are seeing more and more changes in the way people eat in Canada,” noted study author Simon Somogyi, Arrell Chair in the Business of Food at the University of Guelph. “By 2050, there will be more than 10 billion people on the planet, and while people will still be eating animal protein, plant-based proteins that are more sustainably produced are a credible alternative.”
Study participants took an online survey in September 2018 to determine how Canadian’s view protein alternatives. The study’s results were released in time for World Vegan Day on Nov. 1.