Vegetarianism in Romania - In depth analysis 1/2
Since Veganuary has just ended, we used this month as a good opportunity to conduct a study on the popularity of a plant-based diet in Romania.
We interviewed over 900 people in all and discovered a few surprising findings:
Many Romanians consider themselves vegetarians or vegans. However, some of them mix up the terms vegetarian and vegan
Choosing a largely plant-based lifestyle is motivated by a variety of motives, including a desire to live a healthier lifestyle, a desire to consume more bio food, and the fact that not consuming meat confers an inherent moral superiority
If you would like to discover more about vegetarians and vegans, keep on reading the first part of the analysis of the study!
As we all know, the act of eating is not just about getting what the body needs, but also about what the soul needs, by enjoying ourselves with the ones we share the meal with and by feeling comfortable with what the meal is composed of. Foods in general are more than simply a source of energy, minerals, and vitamins; they also have an emotional and symbolic payload.
As a result, what we eat is influenced not just by the foods that are easily available to us, but also by our beliefs and attitudes.
Meat is a fundamental energy and protein-producing meal all across the world, but it can also be a controversial subject. Some people avoid only particular types of meat, while others avoid all meat.
Meat avoiding sporadic diets, most likely in a ritualic context, have probably existed since the dawn of times. From the first millennium B.C. we already have recorded evidence of advocacy for a regular meatless, plant-based diet – in India, in the Far East, respectively Greece in the European area. The main motivation behind this push for giving up meat was ethical, driven by religious or philosophical reasons.
In modern times, particularly in the last few years, there has been a growing tendency throughout the world, including in Europe, of adopting a plant-based diet, eliminating meat and other animal-derived foods either partially or totally. People are now opting for such diets for ethical reasons (animal and environmental welfare), health reasons, peer pressure, or, in some cases, just because they dislike meat.
There is a wide variety of such diets and the definitions ranges on a continuum from no other animal origin food whatsoever to various degrees of accepting animal-based food, such as:
• Veganism which calls for a diet which avoids any animal derived food – including gelatin, collagen, and sometimes even honey and white sugar.
• “Traditional” vegetarians – no meat whatsoever, but they are eating dairy and/or eggs and maybe other animal derived products such as gelatin, collagen and honey.
• The relaxed vegetarians also known as “pescatarians” – they are eating fish, seafood and derived products, may or may not also eat dairy or eggs.
• Flexitarians – are eating mostly vegetal based food but who are willing to eat animal products sometimes.
The problem is clearly complex, and people's perceptions may differ from "the book" definitions. As we will see a little later, some Romanians consider pescatarians and even people who avoid solely red meat but not poultry to be vegetarians.
This study is intended to shed a bit of light on the vegetarians (including vegans) in urban Romania – how many people consider themselves to be vegetarians / vegans and how vegetarians / vegans are perceived from both inside and outside.
Vegans & Vegetarians distribution by age, education & city size
In the past decades there has been an increasing shift towards reducing or eliminating meat consumption – the younger the people are, the higher the Vegetarians & Vegans percentage.
Otherwise, Vegetarians & Vegans are spread quite even among the urban population. Apparently, there are some variations depending on the size of the city, but the differences are not significant.
Perception on Vegetarians & Vegans
Interestingly, the Vegetarians & Vegans have a bit more nuanced view about vegetarianism.
Non-Vegetarians see vegetarianism in a more polarized light – significantly more of them think Vegetarians are either not eating animal-based food at all or allow a more varied diet with fish or poultry, besides dairy and eggs, while visibly fewer of them are choosing the middle ground option (lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet).
Nutrition related attitudes
Vegetarians & Vegans look more preoccupied by healthy eating – bio /eco, “healthy” food, raw vegetables.
On the other hand, they seem more relaxed toward excesses of sweets & fat and toward controlling what they eat – most likely because, in order to give up various kind of meat and animal related food, they are already exercising more control over they diet and they don’t indulge as much as Non-Vegetarians.
Frequency of meat consumption
For each type of meat consumption (including fish), there’s a sweet spot of 1-2 times a week or less often for Non-Vegetarians, suggesting they like to alternate the type of meat they eat.
On the other hand, fish eating Vegetarians have higher consumption frequency, since they have far fewer choices than Non-Vegetarians.
There is a common trait - seafood, excepting fish, has the most sporadic consumption among both groups – clearly is not as popular in Romania as in other countries. In this study we measured just the consumption frequency, without the amount consumed.
Perceptions on health
Vegetarians feel they are a bit healthier, in general. This is probably the result of their diet, eating more fruits and vegetables than Non-Vegetarians.
We invite you to follow us further to be up to date with the following articles that we will post based on the "in depth analysis" of our research study.