Out all the Western European countries, Belgium is the one where meat consumption has dropped the fastest. Between 2012 and 2016, Belgian meat consumption has dropped by 16.7 %, compared to a mere 1.4 % in the rest of the European Union.
Enormous increase in number of vegetarians
This huge drop has placed Belgium at the bottom of Western European meat consumption: an average Belgian individual eats 71 kilograms of meat. Finland is a close second with 74 kilograms. The Netherlands (79 kilograms), Germany (88 kilograms) and France (91 kilograms) trail by a lot, according to German research firm AMI.
AMI’s results differ slightly from the Belgian government's, which point to a 10.6 % drop since 2012 and a 78 kilogram meat consumption for every Belgian. But even with that lower decrease rate, that drop is still much higher than any of the surrounding countries.
According to vegetarian organization EVA, the strong drop is thanks to an increased number of vegetarians and flexitarians. The number of vegetarians doubled in cities like Ghent and Brussels in the 2013 – 2016 time frame. With initiatives to promote vegetarian dinners on Thursday and Lent without Meat, Belgium has two major campaigns targeted around decreased meat consumption. Cities that join the "Thursday Veggie Day" display a more rapid increase in vegetarians compared to other countries. “Antwerp does not participate and its increase is not as spectacular”, EVA's Nena Baeyens told Belgian newspaper De Standaard.