Results of the current Veganz nutrition study

This year, we once again took a close look at the consumption and eating habits of people living in Germany.

Why are we vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian in Germany? Do food innovations such as in-vitro meat, lab-grown cheese, or insects actually appeal to anyone? And is the greater number of climate and political crises contributing to changes in the way people consume? 
For the fourth year in a row, our study examined the dietary and purchasing behaviour of everybody from omnivores to vegans.

The most fascinating findings at a glance

  • More than 57% of non-vegans in Germany intend to reduce their consumption of animal products in the future
  • Almost 80% of vegetarians would like to go vegan in the future
  • The end of meat is near: almost one third of all Germans are already on a flexitarian diet
  • Lab-grown meat and cheese are very popular: approx. 44% of Germans would eat lab-grown meat and roughly half of all Germans would eat lab-grown cheese
  • Vegan alternatives to milk have maintained their first place position as the most popular substitutes while yoghurt and quark alternatives are in second place – alternatives to non-vegan sweets and snacks came in last place
  • The vegan community has grown by roughly 183,200 people in the last 12 months. Not only that, nearly half a million people have chosen a vegetarian lifestyle within the last year

General information on the survey

After conducting three previous studies, we are now publishing our fourth nutrition study. For this year’s study, we asked 2,733 participants between the ages of 15 and 64 in Germany about their attitudes towards nutrition and environmental protection. 

It’s really interesting, of course, to see which diets Germans currently prefer and what the different motivations and needs of each diet are. Before we get into the current dietary trends and their backgrounds, we’d like to quickly explain the difference between a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, flexitarian, and omnivorous diet:

  • Vegan: purely plant-based diet that excludes meat and fish as well as any products of animal origin, such as milk, eggs, or honey
  • Vegetarian: excludes meat and fish, but still includes products of animal origin such as milk, eggs, and honey
  • Pescatarian: excludes meat, but includes fish and other seafood
  • Flexitarian: meat is consumed as a rule, but consumption is reduced and more conscious. (Source: German Association for Nutrition 20/10/2022)

The following representative results emerged from the survey about the current dietary forms of those participating in the study:

3.1 % vegan
6.9 % vegetarian
2.4 % pescatarian
31.1 % flexitarian
56.5 % omnivore

But what do the percentages mean in actual figures? 3.1% of the German population are vegans, or about 1.67 million people. 6.9% vegetarian corresponds to 3.71 million people, while 2.4% pescatarian means that 1.29 million people follow a pescatarian diet. Flexitarians account for 31.1% which makes up a group of approximately 16.71 million people. At 56.5%, omnivorous diets account for approximately 30.36 million people in Germany. 

Last year’s results were somewhat different as the vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian movement is gaining more and more followers. In 2021, 2.0% of those surveyed were on a vegan diet, which is 1.1% less than this year. The vegetarian community grew even more: with this year’s increase of 2.0%, they have grown from 4.9% last year to 6.9%. The group of flexitarians is also growing steadily: since last year (27.4%), 3.7% more people have opted for a more conscious and reduced consumption of meat. 

Further findings from our survey promise even more growth in these dietary groups. According to the results, 80% of vegetarians can imagine going vegan in the future. In addition, 57.3% of non-vegans would like to consume fewer animal products in general. 44.5% of them are willing to reduce their consumption of animal-based foods to counteract the increasingly noticeable effects of climate change. 35.7% are unsure of this.

Who are the faces behind the vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian movement, and what’s important to them?

Thanks to our study, we have also gained an understanding of who the vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians actually are. Our study showed that almost half of the vegans are between 25 and 49 years old. Furthermore, the movement is mostly female: more than 80% of vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians indicate that they are female. With omnivores it’s quite a different picture: 63.6% of those who follow an omnivorous diet are male.

The most interesting question for us is which vegan products the vegans prefer to consume, and in which product categories they would like to have more choices. 98.7% of vegans indicated that they mainly consume alternatives to milk. In second place were alternatives to yoghurt and quark as 95.1% of vegans consume these. In last place were alternatives to non-vegan sweets and snacks: 92.1% of vegans eat these. 

These are the areas where vegans would like to see more vegan alternatives: 69.1% of respondents said they would like to see more vegan baked goods. To-go and lunch dishes are also in high demand at 59.9%. 52.8% of vegans would also like to see a wider choice of vegan alternatives to cheese and savoury spreads.

Of course, the data collected will also be used to find out what’s most important to consumers when it comes to food. We also want to know whether their priorities have changed – possibly due to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, the war in Ukraine, or inflation. The analysis of the various criteria revealed the following: 50.0% of those surveyed this year consider sustainability when choosing their food. The issue of sustainability held a somewhat larger share of interest last year, at 53.8%. Data from last year showed that the topic of calories is becoming less important for consumers and this year’s survey was no exception: at 32.5%, the topic is less important to 3.4% more respondents than last year. The variety of foods purchased plays a less important role for many people compared to last year: in 2021, 72.7% said that variety was important to them, in 2022 it’s only 67.3%. 

The most significant change in priorities when shopping, however, has been the issue of price: 60.7% of this year’s respondents indicated the price of food as being important. Last year this figure was at 49.4%, which is a significant change of 11.3% fewer people. It appears that inflation is one of the reasons why consumers look out for value for money when shopping. They want fresh, tasty, and healthy meals in the future that won’t put too much strain on their wallets.

Climate protection: an important factor in giving up meat

We are not only seeing a rise in the consumption of plant-based foods, but also a growing willingness to make changes towards a flexitarian or even vegan/vegetarian diet. The main motivator is climate change, which unfortunately doesn’t stop at one’s doorstep, making it a growing force to be reckoned with for the population. The situation appears to be more serious than ever before: people in Germany are being directly affected by environmental disasters such as flooding and forest fires and are becoming politically active themselves. It seems that a new era has begun in recent years with greater climate awareness and climate-conscious actions. Even economic and political crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and inflation have not dampened people’s activism. Many people continue to work for more environmental protection through political commitment and conscious purchasing decisions.

The future belongs to flexitarians

Although the number of vegans and vegetarians has risen, most of the population still consumes meat and other products of animal origin: 31.1% of Germans consider themselves flexitarian.

According to the German Nutrition Society, ‘flexitarians […] are also called flexible vegetarians. They oppose factory farming, want to protect the environment and promote their health, yet they do not want to give up meat altogether.’

Source: DGE: 10/2022)

Our previous studies of the last two years already showed a noticeable trend towards reduced and more conscious meat consumption. Given that flexitarians are the second largest dietary group after omnivores, they have significant leverage in effectively reducing meat consumption and the consumption of animal-based foods, thereby combating climate change.

And let’s be honest, the formula for effective consumption for climate preservation is so simple! The manufacture of vegan food uses significantly less agricultural land than is the case for animal-based foods. The more land we use for rearing animals, the less land remains for nature. After all, plants, and especially trees, are essential: they store the carbon present in the air, which reduces its concentration. However, since space has to be cleared for livestock farming, more and more forests are being cleared , producing even more greenhouse gases. Clearly a vegan diet is much more climate friendly than an omnivorous diet. But flexitarians can also improve carbon emissions: simply reducing the quantity of animal products you consume has a positive impact on the environment. Each and every step towards plant-based eating is valuable and incredibly important in achieving the goal of keeping global warming as close to 1.5 °C as possible by the year 2100. Flexitarian consumers are generating an interesting trend in the retail sector by helping make vegan products more mainstream and less of a niche market.

In-vitro meat, lab-grown cheese, and creepy crawlies

For years, researchers have been working on developing lab-grown meat, i.e. in-vitro meat, and lab-grown cheese. The aim is to create a product that is identical to the original, but with a different production process. According to our survey, more than a third of respondents (43.9%) can imagine eating lab-grown meat. That’s already 3.9% more than in 2021!

Percentage of respondents who can see themselves eating Lab-Grown Meat: 

Lab-grown cheese was even more popular at 50.6%. What is particularly telling here is that the greatest approval comes from vegans and vegetarians: At 58.4%, more than half of German vegans can imagine eating lab-grown cheese, despite the fact that they wouldn’t normally eat cheese. Among vegetarians, a whopping 71.4% would eat the cheese of the future. Similarly, 57.4% of pescatarians would eat lab-grown cheese, which is almost the same figure as for vegans.

Just like in-vitro meat, lab-grown cheese received even more acceptance this year than last: with an increase of 7.4%, a significantly larger proportion of respondents can imagine lab-grown cheese as a new food.

Percentage of respondents who can see themselves eating Lab-Grown cheese: 

There has been a lot of talk about insects as food over the past few years. You can actually already get some types of insects in the form of burgers or bars, but shops are certainly not rushing to give them shelf space. For although the offer is there, the acceptance of creepy crawlies on our plates is still fairly low at 32.1%. At 67.9%, it’s clear that the majority of Germans don’t feel that insects have a place in the kitchen. It even looks like this innovation won’t catch on in the future as last year the willingness to eat insects was even slightly higher at 31.4%. When compared to the acceptance of lab-grown cheese, edible insects are not really a viable option for European vegans: a mere 4.3% of vegans would be willing to include insects in their diet.

Percentage of respondents who can see themselves eating insects: 

And now?

We feel encouraged by the work we’ve done over the past few years and equally inspired by all the input and findings – we couldn’t have done it without you. So once again, thank you very much!

These results allow us to find out more about consumers and to better understand their needs. From this, we can draw helpful conclusions that will support us in achieving our vision: to motivate people all over the world to adopt a plant-based diet and to practice environmental responsibility. In doing so, we want to create a sustainable future for all living beings on the planet. As a full-range provider of vegan foods, we work every day to offer a diverse selection of tasty plant-based products and innovations. At the same time, it is important to us to be transparent in our actions and behaviour, and to be respectful towards all living beings and nature.

For more news from the vegan movement, follow us on our social media channels. We can’t wait to get your feedback on our results!

Your Veganz team

*Data was updated on 04/11/2022 at 13:00.

Don’t miss out!

Have you been searching for yet another newsletter to land regularly in your email box? No problem at all. Simply register for ours! Trust us: It will make your collection complete!