Prospects for pro-environmental protein consumption in Europe: Cultural, culinary, economic and psychological factors

Joop de Boer*, Harry Aiking

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The current ratio between plant and animal protein in the Western diet is causing serious threats to both public health and the environment. Healthy, pro-environmental protein consumption requires a transition to a diet with more plant protein and considerably less animal protein. The present paper focuses on the prospects of this transition by analyzing consumer responses to some key options in the context of regional differences across Europe. The aim is to assess how responses to the options might be shaped by 1) cultural, culinary and economic spatial gradients (including GDP per capita) at regional level and 2) differences in environmental friendly behavior and gender at individual level. The study, covering all EU members in 2012, compares regional level statistics (food supply data) with individual level statistics (consumer survey data) and vice-versa. The south-north latitude gradient showed a decreasing trend in vegetable and pulse protein supplies and, in parallel, a decreasing trend in positive consumer responses to the key options, probably due to differences in meal experiences. The west-east longitude gradient showed decreasing levels of animal protein supplies and GDP per capita. Individuals’ willingness to do something positive for the environment and their gender played a weak but consistent role in the responses. To effectively stimulate diet changes, it is important to seek ways in which culinary and environmental aspects can complement each other and to ensure that diet changes do not depend solely on individual decisions but become an integral part of regional social processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-40
Number of pages12
Early online date1 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Animal protein
  • Consumers
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Plant protein


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