19 November 2019

8 out of 10 Danes not ready to do completely without meat on the plate


A new University of Copenhagen study reports that the vast majority of Danes prefer a combination of meat and vegetables on their plates and that few are ready to do away with the meat portion. The research results suggest that vegetarian dishes aren’t necessarily the best way for people to reduce their overall meat consumption.

Which would you choose - a vegetarian dish or a combination of meat and veg? And, what would you do if the choice was between either a plate of meat, or a plate of vegetables?

A broad range of Danes were asked these questions as part of a recent study on Danish food preferences conducted by the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Food and Resource Economics. Participants were repeatedly asked to choose from a range of pasta dishes, some with meat, some with veggies and some with both.

The results demonstrated that the vast majority of Danes – 87 percent – would, by their own account, opt out of vegetarian fare and choose a plate of both meat and vegetables if they had the choice. And, the majority of respondents would go so far as to choose a meat-only dish over a purely vegetarian dish.

"Our study suggests that most of the survey’s participants would often opt out of meat-free days at home or vegetarian dishes in the canteen. However, it is important to emphasize that this same large group of Danes prefers a combination of meat and vegetables,” according to Tove Christensen, who is one of the researchers and an associate professor at the Department of Food and Resource Economics.

Downsizing meat portions

Despite popular concern about climate and healthy eating, it does not seem as if individual consumers are ready to abandon meat. But there are still plenty of significant opportunities for people to scale up on veggies and scale back on meat, according to Christensen’s fellow researcher, Associate Professor Sigrid Denver.

"These results demonstrate that the vast majority of Danes would prefer to strike some sort of balance between meat and vegetables. If people want to consume less meat, we might need to consider reducing meat portions across meals, while ramping up on vegetables, as opposed to preparing completely vegetarian meals," suggests Sigrid Denver.

Thus, there is good reason to shred some extra carrot into the meatballs or slice an additional tomato into one’s pasta salad, instead of counting on people to opt for 100% vegetarian meals.

Twice as much meat as vegetables on people’s plates

Delving into the specifics, the study finds that the average Dane prefers a meal with twice as much meat as vegetables.

There’s a way to go to before the average Danish consumer nears or meets with the Danish Health Authority’s official recommendation of a meal composed of 1/5 animal products, 2/5 vegetables and 2/5 bread, pasta, rice and potatoes.

Only 13 percent of respondents would rather have a pasta dish of vegetables only, rather than one of meat only. This same group is also the one willing to pay more for organic.