Dietary shifts towards more plant-based food consumption is a key element in climate-change mitigation. However, dietary changes in the direction of plant-based eating remains a challenge, both at individual and societal levels. Commonly known barriers towards plant-based eating include, for instance, a lack of skills and knowledge about balanced eating, limited access and availability to plant-based foods, and the perceived tastelessness of a diet without animal products.
Data from the Smart Protein PAN EU survey of more than 7,500 respondents across 10 European countries was analysed in order to better understand European consumers’ barriers towards plant-based food consumption. A special focus has been placed on how barriers towards plant-based food consumption differ according to dietary lifestyle.
Summary and key findings:
- Issues of availability, price, and a lack of information were the barriers with the highest scores across all dietary lifestyles.
- Taste expectation of plant-based foods and the hedonic experience have also been found to be important barriers towards dietary shifts. Omnivores scored significantly higher than the other groups in the statement that plant-based foods would not be tasty enough.
- The experience of barriers differs significantly, depending on the chosen dietary lifestyle. Omnivores were more likely to score higher in the barriers to dietary shifts than vegetarians, vegans, or flexitarians.
- Communication and behaviour-change strategies should be targeted according to people’s current dietary lifestyle. Future interventions should address lay beliefs regarding the necessity of meat in a healthy diet, as well as the experience of plant-based foods, with a special focus on their sensory characteristics and the pleasure obtained from their consumption.
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