Poll: French happy to cut meat intake but not dairy

The majority of the French public would like to reduce the environmental impact of their food, but would be more likely to cut their meat consumption than dairy to do so, a new survey has found.

23 February 2020
By Connexion journalist

The poll for news website Le HuffPost was timed to coincide with the start of the Salon de l’Agriculture, taking place from February 22 to March 1 at Expo Porte de Versailles in Paris.

More than four fifths (83%) of French people said they were “prepared to make an effort” to reduce the environmental impact of their food. An additional one third said they were “quite prepared” to do so.

Just 12% said they were “not really prepared to”, and just 2% said they “were not at all prepared” to do so.

Less meat and dairy?

While just 4% of respondents said they were totally vegetarian, a significant 68% said that they do not eat meat everyday, and 37% said they do not eat dairy products everyday.

Choosing to reduce your consumption of meat and dairy products without becoming a total vegetarian or vegan is often called “flexitarianism”.

Almost two thirds (60%) said they would be prepared to reduce their meat consumption. A similar number (57%) said that they would be prepared to eat less meat, to allow them to eat more organic produce.

Women were more likely than men to be prepared to eat less meat; 52% of men said they would be, compared to 67% of women.

Nicole Darmon, specialist researcher at agricultural research centre (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique) Inra, said this was to be expected, as “men eat, on average, more meat than women [anyway]”.

But French people appeared less amenable to cutting down on dairy, with just two in five (40%) saying they would be prepared to cut down their consumption of dairy products.

 

Other food options?

Just 19% said they would be prepared to eat insects if it was healthier for the planet, and only one in 10 people said they would be ready to eat “lab grown” meat.

Both have been touted as more eco-friendly sources of protein in recent years.

Commenting on the results, Ms Darmon said: “When you think of a sustainable plate of food, with a nutritionally-adequate diet, while also reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, we have to be aware of cultural acceptance.

“We must reduce our environmental impact, all the while diverting as little as possible from what is currently most socially acceptable to the French public.”

According to Le HuffPost, which has commissioned a special report on the impact our food has on agriculture and the environment, our food represents 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Agricultural use of land is one of the “major factors in the loss of biodiversity”, it said.

The new poll was conducted online from February 19-20, by agency YouGov France for Le HuffPost, across 1,003 people representative of the French public, aged 18+.

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