59% of Italian meat eaters are reducing their annual consumption

The survey was carried out by ProVeg in partnership with the University of Copenhagen and Ghent University.

A pan-European survey, called Evolving appetites: An in-depth look at attitudes towards plant-based eating and funded by the EU’s Smart Protein project, has found that 59% of meat eaters in Italy report actively reducing their annual meat consumption. 

Italy’s results from the Smart Protein consumer survey show enormous potential for the country’s plant-based sector and suggest key opportunities for food companies to successfully expand their plant-based product range, in both retail and food service.

This report follows on from the European report which was published in November 2023. It finds that promising changes on the overall consumer preferences and behaviors have been made over the last two years in Europe.  

“Looking ahead, the future of plant-based cuisine in Italy will be an exciting blend of tradition and innovation. With a growing interest in exploring diverse global flavors, we expect to see an increase in the incorporation of ethnic cuisines and exotic ingredients into our culinary landscape. In addition, the emergence of fermented products, such as miso and other Asian-derived fermentations, will add depth and complexity to plant-based offerings. By exploring unique pairings to enhance the cooking experience, we’re not just following trends, we’re shaping a vibrant and flavourful future where plant-based options are able to flourish.”  Nicoletta Aquaro, Global Innovation Platform Sr. Manager, Barilla Group. 

750 people in Italy were asked about their attitudes towards the consumption of plant-based foods, their trust in these products, their current consumption habits and the key drivers of their food choices.


  • 59% of meat consumers in Italy report having reduced their annual meat intake. 
  • The primary motives for reducing meat or dairy consumption are health (54%), concerns about antibiotics (17%), and the environment (16%). 
  • Respondents in Italy plan to substitute animal-based foods with legumes (57%), legume-based foods (43%), plant-based meat alternatives (39%), and plant-based dairy alternatives (41%). 
  • Taste (35%) and lack of information about plant-based alternatives (27%) remain the key barriers to choosing plant-based alternatives.
  • 71% want policymakers to enhance transparency standards in product certifications, and 68% advocate for the removal of taxes on food that have a reduced environmental impact.

Forthcoming webinar on the survey

A webinar will take place on 25 May 2024 between 11 am–12 noon (CET) allowing participants to learn more about consumer preferences and behaviors towards plant-based foods over the past two years. 

Those taking part will gain a deeper understanding of the long-term potential of the plant-based food industry and the extent to which further growth can be sustained. If you work in the food industry, you can’t afford to miss this webinar! Register here

For more information contact: Elsa Guadarrama at [email protected] 


Notes to Editors

Download the main report here.

For media inquiries, email Peter Rixon at [email protected]

About the Smart Protein Project 

Smart Protein is a €10-million, EU-funded project that seeks to develop a new generation of foods that are cost effective, resource efficient, and nutritious. Alternative protein sources such as legumes and side streams from beer and pasta production are used to generate plant-based ingredients and plant-based meat, seafood, dairy products, and baked goods.

About ProVeg International

Our vision is a world where everyone chooses delicious and healthy food that is good for all humans, animals, and our planet. ProVeg International is a food awareness organization with the mission to replace 50% of animal products globally with plant-based and cultivated foods by 2040.

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