Johanna Lehto, a postgraduate intern at Statistics Finland, has rejected the interpretation that vegetarianism is a bubble in Finland.
Helsingin Sanomat in July reported that the amount of meat consumed in the country has not changed over the past couple of years despite the widespread media attention received by veganism, vegetarianism and plant-based diets since 2016.
The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), the newspaper pointed out, has published data indicating that the consumption of meat per capita in fact increased from 77.5 kilos to 81 kilos between 2012 and 2016 and stayed at that level between 2016 and 2017.
Statistics Finland’s data shows on the other hand that the share of households on a meat-free diet rose from 5.3 per cent in 2012 to 8.0 per cent in 2016, according to Lehto. She says the data consequently suggests that a smaller share of the population is consuming a larger share of meat and meat products in Finland.
Meat-free diets were the most common among 25–34-year-old households in both 2012 and 2016, but their popularity increased in all age groups, with the exception of over 75-year-olds, over the four-year period.
Lehto tells that dietary habits seem to have changed particularly among 17–24-year-old households, with the share of meat-free households rising from 9.2 to 17.7 per cent in 2012–2016.
The survey defines meat-free households as households that did not purchase any meat, animal parts, meat products or pre-cooked foods containing meat during the two-week period the research data was collected.
The data also shows that the trend towards meat-free diets is spreading gradually from the capital region also to other parts of Finland. Lehto highlights that three-quarters of households who were classified as meat-free lived outside the capital region in 2016.
She also reminds that the next consumption survey will show whether giving up meat represents a real change in the food culture or simply a temporary trend. Statistics Finland will collect data for the next study in 2020–2021.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi