A recent survey has revealed the number of vegetarians in Portugal to have risen about 400 per cent over the past decade. Currently, at least 120,000 individuals abstain from eating either meat or fish, which represents a very significant increase from 2007, when reportedly there were only 30,000 vegetarians.
In 2017, about 60,000 people, corresponding to about 0.6 percent of the population, follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet. Most of them are women or young people with ages between 25 and 34 years old.
The survey, which involved 2,000 random interviews, was carried out by Nielsen, and promoted by Centro Vegetariano. It also found the frequency of consumption of meat and fish to have reduced. Nowadays, at least five percent of the population exclude either meat or fish from their dietary regime.
According to the Portuguese Vegetarian Association, this survey clearly shows that plant-based diets are a fast growing tendency in Portugal and that the vegan lifestyle is increasingly popular amongst the young population. The approval in parliament in April, of law which assures that all Portuguese public canteens must have a vegan option, has further helped to promote this lifestyle choice.
Environmental and animal welfare concerns are considered to be two of the main drivers behind this trend, as well as the health benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. Some major public figures in Portugal have embraced vegetarianism, contributing greatly to the increase in numbers of those who are pulling away from animal-based foods.
“This is more than a trend, it’s a shift in society. The progressive increase in the number of vegetarians in Portugal and all over Europe is a reflection of the way societies are evolving today, to face some major civilisational challenges”, said Nuno Alvim, spokesperson for the Portuguese Vegetarian Association.
“The survey results are not so surprising to us. We had clear indicators of this growth all around us. The vegetarian market in Portugal has exploded over the past decade. Nowadays you can find veggie products everywhere, and the main cities like Lisbon and Porto offer a great number of possibilities in terms of vegetarian/vegan restaurants.”