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One in Five Young Women Avoiding Meat

The ethics of meat production are a growing concern for many. Young women have reacted most severely to revelations about the conditions in which livestock are kept—every fifth refuses to eat meat altogether.

Lampaankyljyksiä lihatiskissä
Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos tutkii suomalaisten karppaustavat ensi vuonna. Tutkimukseen osallistuu 10 000 suomalaista. Image: YLE

Last year, a fifth of women aged 15-24 said that they did not eat any meat. Their ranks have swelled hugely from two years before, when only three percent of them preferred to avoid meat. The numbers doubled from the previous year.

Of the entire population of Finland, which stands at nearly 5.5 million, seven percent reject eating meat—mostly for ethical reasons or out of environmental concerns.

As an example, in 2009 seven percent of the population was troubled by the living conditions of farmed chickens. Last year, the number increased to 16 percent.

“Consumers have expressed worries that chickens grow in spaces too tight for them or that the animals don’t have enough litter or active stimuli,” says director Riitta Stirkkinen from Finland’s meat advisory Lihatiedotus.

Worries partially justified?

The meat advisory admits that sometimes concerns about farmed animals’ welfare are appropriate.

“To a great extent this is a question of imagination, because most of us have become so removed from food production. In production environments, even the ordinary things might appear strange. But partially there might be other issues at hand,” Stirkkinen notes.

Despite this, meat consumption, measured in kilos, has grown and more growth is predicted. A Finn eats on average 70 kilograms of meat per year.

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