Flexitarianism in the Netherlands in the 2010 decade: Shifts, consumer segments and motives

Verain, Muriel C.D.; Dagevos, Hans; Jaspers, Patricia


The consumption of large amounts of meat is associated with a high environmental burden and a negative impact on human health. A reduction in meat consumption in Western diets is needed. Consumers differ in their attitudes, norms and behaviours related to meat. The aim of the current study is to improve our understanding of meat consumption and reduction. Segments of meat consumers are identified and shifts in these segments, their attitudes and norms in the 2010 decade are examined. Two online surveys have been conducted among Dutch adults, one in 2011 (N = 1253) and one in 2019 (N = 1979). In both years, similar consumer segments were identified: two meat-oriented segments (compulsive meat eaters and meat lovers) and three segments of meat reducers (unconscious, potential and conscious flexitarians). The segments differed in their attitudes, norms and motives towards meat reduction, their meat consumption and intentions and in their socio-demographic and psychological profile. A comparison over the years showed minor, though positive changes. We conclude that meat consumers can be classified into several groups that form a continuum from strong meat attachment to significant meat moderation. Targeted approaches should be developed to stimulate these groups towards shifting their diet into more flexitarian directions. The development of flexitarianism in the Netherlands during the 2010 s suggests that there is still a long way to go to a predominantly plant-based flexitarian diet.