China: a country full of opportunities for the vegan market

Attitudes toward veganism in China are changing. First of all, in Chinese culture, eating meat is considered a sign of prosperity. While meat consumption has been on the rise since the 1980s, the trend of veganism on the plate is growing and spreading rapidly. In this article, we show why the Chinese market is a great opportunity for plant-based products.

History of meat consumption in China

In the beginning, the Chinese population mainly consumed plant-based products. For more information, browse around this website. However, after the economic reforms in agriculture in the 1980s, meat consumption increased and pork became very popular in China. Meat is to some extent a sign of wealth and social status, given its price, which partly explains the tendency to consume large quantities of meat. 

Recently, however, the Chinese market has become a source of great controversy due to its association with zoonotic diseases and a possible coronavirus outbreak. The Chinese government is therefore promoting meat restriction and vegetarianism as safer food alternatives to reduce the risk of future pandemics. As the world's largest meat exporter (supplying about 25% of all meat worldwide), 

China is likely to play a leading role in vegetarian meat production. With animal meat consumption declining in many countries around the world, plant-based alternatives are becoming a safer option. The Chinese government wants to reduce meat consumption in the country by 50%, not only to reduce the risk of animal diseases, but also to reduce carbon emissions and combat obesity.

Chinese Vegetarian Consumer Profile

As in the rest of the world, in China the vegan diet and lifestyle are most popular among the younger generation. According to Statista, over 70% of vegan consumers in 2018 were under the age of 35 (47% were between the ages of 18 and 35). 

The survey also shows that, as abroad, women are more likely to follow this diet and lifestyle. However, the reasons for consuming vegan products vary. While in Anglo-Saxon countries, the most popular (or most frequently cited) reasons are animal welfare and the environment, in China the main reason is health, according to the CBN 2020 report.