In 2017, meat consumption in Sweden dropped 2.7 per cent. According to a recent survey, nine per cent of young Swedes aged 15-24 identify as vegetarians, while more than a whopping 30 per cent are consciously trying to reduce their meat consumption.
Reports from around the world reflect similar tendencies. In countries like Germany, Norway and Belgium, an estimated 10 per cent of adults identify as vegetarian, while a study carried out in the UK suggests that as many as 14 per cent of Brits don’t eat meat or fish. In the U.S. the number is slightly lower at around nine per cent. However, the country is still home to the highest number of individual vegetarians – close to 30 million in total.
These numbers are only expected to keep growing. A report by Allied Market Research predicts that the global meat-alternative market will reach USD 5.2 billion by 2020, representing an annual compound growth rate of 8.4 per cent. Last year, Richard Branson, Virgin billionaire and a proponent of the meat-free diet even went so far as to predict that all meat will either be clean or plant-based 30 years from now.
Meanwhile, veganism – which involves cutting out all animal protein, including dairy and eggs – is growing even more dramatically than vegetarianism. According to a recently published report entitled Top Trends in Prepared Foods in 2017, the number of vegans in the U.S. alone has increased by a massive 600 per cent since 2014.
Why go vegetarian?
People choose vegetarianism for a variety of reasons. In the past, vegetarians mainly cited ethical and animal welfare issues as their motivation, but the sudden recent growth has different origins. These days, many new vegetarians admit that they are increasingly concerned with their own wellbeing and that of the planet.
Research shows that people who eat less meat – and red meat in particular – are likely to live longer and suffer fewer cases of life-threatening cardiovascular disease, as well as certain forms of cancer. Meanwhile, greenhouse gas emissions resulting from vegetarian diets are significantly lower than those from meat eaters. Research led by Oxford Martin School has shown that a general, global adoption of vegetarianism could reduce emissions from food-related activities by more than 60 per cent.
Vegetarian and vegan food innovations from Sweden
As demand for plant-based food continues to increase around the world, a number of innovative Swedish food producers have emerged as leaders in their respective fields. Risenta is the big name in the veggie burger market, with a popular selection of meat-free patty mixes, such as chickpea, quinoa, and chickpea and seaweed, while Findus is best known for frozen, ready-made vegan food including its vegan couscous mix, carrot patties and Lebanese-style falafel.
Meanwhile, Swedish vegan meat producer Oumph! is making a splash internationally. Earlier this year, it secured a contract for its meaty plant-based products – which include Pulled Oumph!, Kebab Spiced, and The Chunk – to be sold in close to 400 Tesco supermarkets across Britain.
Another international sensation is Anamma, whose vegan mincemeat is so good that it has been selected by none other than McDonald’s as the basis for its new McVegan veggie burger. The McVegan is currently being trialled in Sweden and Finland and, so far, the feedback has been remarkably positive.
Sweden is also home to some leading vegan and vegetarian influencers. Green Kitchen Stories is a blog by a Swedish-Danish couple whose family of four eats no meat, no processed food and hardly any dairy or gluten. They currently boast more than half a million followers on their two Instagram accounts, in addition to a hugely popular blog, a YouTube channel, two apps and have published two cookbooks. Other examples include Agnes Cecilia Gällhagen with Cashew Kitchen, as well as vegetarian chef Siri Barje a.k.a Olivehummer.