How willing are Canadians to trade meat for plant-based protein?


Many of us are full-fledged carnivores, but fewer and fewer Canadians are cutting into a barbecued steak.

That’s the conclusion of a new Dalhousie University study looking at Canadian attitudes toward plant-based protein alternatives. According to the study, 6.4 million Canadians say they are limiting the amount of meat they eat, and the number will likely grow.

Dalhousie University professor and principal investigator Sylvain Charlebois says “more and more Canadians are considering reducing the amount of protein from meat in their diets.” That is a key finding from the online study entitled: Plant-based dieting and meat attachment: Protein wars and the changing Canadian consumer. The study was released to coincide with World Vegan Day, which is observed on November 1.

Charlebois notes that Canada’s new food guide will be released in the months to come, and advances in technology have given consumers more protein choices. “We wanted to learn more about what Canadians think about eating meat and plant-based alternatives, and how willing they are to reduce their meat consumption and consider new types of proteins.”

In this interview, Sylvain Charlebois tells RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney that health concerns, the environment and price are key factors reducing consumers’ love of meat. Story continues after the interview.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Gender differences appear to play a role in determining meat-eating habits. In the study, women were more likely to be concerned about animal welfare and more likely to agree that meat is replaceable by other sources of protein. Men, however, were more likely to consider eating meat one of life’s great pleasures, particularly older men.
  • Age does make a difference. Younger and more educated respondents were less likely to love meals with meat, and more likely to want plant-based alternatives. Sixty-three percent of respondents following a vegan diet—free from all animal-based products—were under the age of 38. Younger consumers are also less likely to believe that eating meat is a fundamental right.
  • Lab-grown meat and insect-based proteins are still not appealing to Canadian consumers, but younger respondents are more receptive to the idea of lab-grown meat.

Wake up with RealAgriculture

Subscribe to our daily newsletters to keep you up-to-date with our latest coverage every morning.

Wake up with RealAgriculture

Please register to read and comment.


Register for a RealAgriculture account to manage your Shortcut menu instead of the default.