Eat less meat and more organic foods

In defence of the environment, 40.7% of the Portuguese reused meals when taking leftovers as ‘packed lunches’ to the workplace, 32.1% bought and consumed less meat and 24.2% purchased more organic/sustainable agriculture food. These are some of the results of the Missão Continente/ICS-ULisboa III Great National Sustainability Survey, which were presented today, in Lisbon.

Promoted by Missão Continente and with scientific coordination by OBSERVA/ICS-ULisboa, the III Great National Sustainability Survey continues the two previous surveys (2016 and 2018) and addresses issues related to food, food waste, circular economy and product traceability, social inclusion, national production, environmental sustainability and conscious consumption.

Among the remaining measures that the respondents have adopted in defence of the environment, the following stand out: replacing normal light bulbs with low consumption light bulbs (63.4%); reducing consumption of disposable products (48.9%); reducing waste and sorting it for recycling (48.5%) and cultivating a vegetable garden (22.2%).

When compared to the 2018 data, the survey recorded a decrease in meat consumption and an increase in the importance of plant-based meals, which now exceeds 2 meals, on average, per week. Women consume more plant-based meals than men, and people with higher education and more comfortable incomes tend to have healthier consumption habits, eating less meats with saturated fats and opting for white meats.

52.4% of respondents, especially the younger ones, consider food waste to be one of the most worrying aspects of food consumption, followed by excess sugars or fats in food (36.2%) and the presence of pesticides in fruits, vegetables and cereals (23.9%).

Regarding the criteria considered most valued when buying food, these are its freshness (92%), taste (89%), fair price (87%), shelf life (84%), being healthy (84%) and looking good (84%).

After the pandemic, respondents increased their attendance of leisure and consumption spaces, namely going to the beach (from 65.3% to 94.7%); outdoor walks (from 64.3% to 96.5%) and having group meals together at home or at friends’ and family’s homes (from 73.4% to 97.8%).

Regarding possible actions to be taken when it comes to school meals, 62.6% agree with the ban on the sale of unhealthy foods within a 500 m radius from schools. It is young people (<25 years) who least agree with the intervention measures in school meals.

46.7% of the Portuguese consider forest fires to be one of the most serious environmental problems in our country, followed by water scarcity (31.8%), climate change (27.9%) and food waste (27.9%). Compared to 2018, the Portuguese have increased their concern regarding these three points.

More than half of the Portuguese (54%) have a negative opinion on the distribution of wealth in Portugal, 62.2% of the Portuguese feel pessimistic about access to housing and 46.9% show apprehension on the ability to support their household consumption in the next 5 years.

If there was an increase in the family budget, most Portuguese (42.3%) would take the opportunity to “save”, followed by almost 1/3 (31.8%) who would invest more in “holidays” and “health care” (30.8%). This last category had been the most marked in the previous survey with 51% of responses and the third most marked in 2016 with 41%.

The Portuguese believe that the country should invest more in the Education/training sectors (48.4%), in the Environment (35.3%) and in Renewable Energy (31.5%). Agriculture follows (29.7%) which still holds a favourable place in this ranking, although less than in the 1st Survey carried out in 2016, especially when compared to the other economic activities – industry, tourism and commerce.

The III Great National Sustainability Survey, supported by Missão Continente, is the result of a questionnaire, made to a statistically representative sample of Portuguese people aged 18 or over, on topics such as environmental sustainability, the dimensions of well-being, consumption and lifestyle practices and expectations for the country’s future.

Side Note*: The survey was carried out using face-to-face questionnaires through the TAPI system. Individuals of both genders, aged 18 and over, residing in mainland Portugal were inquired. Cross-stratified sampling was used, with quotas by gender, age, region (NUTSII) and education. The sample obtained is from 1520 surveys, carried out in 208 parishes of mainland Portugal, previously selected. The associated margin of error, for a confidence level of 95.5%, is of ±2.56%. Fieldwork took place between June 20th and August 5th, 2022.

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