4.2. Differences between Groups
In all nine statements, there was a statistically significant difference (p < 0.001) among men and women, so that women had systematically higher scores than men. Thus, women prefer more sustainable food than men in Finland.
When taking a closer look at the differences between groups in favoring plant-based diets, we recognized that the differences among different age groups were statistically very significant, F(5, 1500) = 6.89, p < 0.001. Plant-based diets were most common among citizens under 30 years and over 60 years old which means that the behavior was demonstrated in an inverse bell curve. In addition, favoring plant-based diets received high scores until the personal yearly income reached 30,000 euros. Having more money seemed to decrease favoring plant-based diets. Among citizens earning more than 30,000 euros, favoring the plant-based diets decreased significantly, F(5, 1416) = 3.74, p = 0.002. Regarding the place of residence, there was a statistically significant difference, F(2, 1523) = 3.11, p = 0.045, when favoring plant-based diets. We recognized that favoring plant-based diets was highest in the metropolitan area and decreased towards the countryside.
Avoiding red meat varied such that the of 40–49-year-old age group avoided eating red meat the least and, interestingly, the age group of over 70 years old avoided red meat the most. Between the different age groups, there was a statistically very significant difference, F(5, 1618) = 5.66, p < 0.001 Statistically, a significant difference also occurred among the different living areas, F(2, 1551) = 6.11, p < 0.002. Citizens in the metropolitan area avoided red meat the most, and citizens in the countryside avoided red meat the least.
Regarding the willingness to try new healthy and environmentally friendly foodstuffs, there were no statistically significant differences among the socio-demographics groups, apart from gender, F(1, 1986) = 111.0, p < 0.001. Women were more willing to try new foodstuffs than men. Nevertheless, willingness to try new foodstuffs decreased with age, but it was not statistically significant (p < 0.061).
When considering the willingness to minimize the environmental impacts of the diet, the differences between different age groups were statistically very significant, F(5, 1606) = 7.65, p = 0.000. Finns in the 40–49-year-old group were the least interested in minimizing the environmental impacts of the diet and those over 70 years old were the most interested. Thus, these tendencies were demonstrated by the inverse bell curve. In addition, we detected that personal net income influenced willingness to minimize environmental impacts positively until 40,000 euros. When personal yearly net income is above 40,000 euros, citizens become less interested in the environmental impacts of their diets. The difference was statistically very significant, F(5, 1391) = 3.99, p < 0.002.
Choosing a pro-climate restaurant meal had a great diversity of responses. Statistically, a significant difference F(5, 1423) = 5.77, p < 0.001 was found among different age groups. We recognized that the age group under 30 years old had a relatively low interest in choosing pro-climate restaurant meals. Also 30–40-year-old Finns were very unlikely to choose a pro-climate restaurant meal. When personal income level increases, choosing a pro-climate restaurant meal is reduced as well. After personal net-income reached the level 30,000 euros, the decrease was steep. The difference between different income groups was a statistically significant, F(5, 1287) = 2.65, p < 0.03.
When comparing the activeness or passiveness to influence diet, there was a statistically significant difference between the metropolitan area and other living areas, F(2, 2002) = 3.11, p < 0.045. In the metropolitan area, the activity of people was higher than people living in other areas. Regarding the age groups, we recognized that 30–39-years-old Finns were the most active in influencing their diets. Respectively, 40–49-years-old Finns were the most passive in influencing their diet. Between the different age groups, there was a statistically significant difference, F(4, 1619) = 2.76, p < 0.02.
4.3. Reasoning of Food Choices
Health-related issues were the most common reasons either to avoid red meat (25.5%) or to favor plant-based diets (36.8%) (Figure 3
) When avoiding red meat, answers included multiple concerns such as a fear of cancer, increased cholesterol or abdominal problems—the respondents were mainly reducing their red meat consumption because of the feared negative impacts. Respectively, the open answers emphasized the personal well-being and a desire to live healthier as the primary reason when favoring plant-based diets—the respondents were mainly increasing their vegetable consumption because of the hoped positive impacts.
Next to health-related issues, were concerns about the state of the environment, climate change and the exploitation of environmental resources for avoiding red meat (16.2%) or for favoring plant-based diets (12.4%). The content of these open answers was similar for both statements, but the respondents did not fully specify whether the concerns were related to Finland or to the global situation.
Personal preferences or taste were mentioned as the fourth most common reason (10.2%) to avoid red meat and as the third most common reason (11.9%) to favor plant-based diets. Again, the reasons to avoid red meat were often seen negatively such as disliking the taste of meat, and respectively, the plant-based diets often received embraces for the flavors of vegetables. Third most commonly (12.5%) respondents avoided or reduced their red meat consumption by eating white meat or vegetables, indicating that there is already an increasing movement towards favoring plant-based diets.
After the third or fourth most common reasons, there was more dispersion between the reasons to avoid red meat or to favor plant-based diets. Ethics, such as the concern about the animal welfare or welfare, was relatively high for the respondents either to avoid red meat (9.7%, the fifth most common reason) or to favor plant-based diets (5.2%, the sixth most common reason). In the open answers, some of the respondents felt very strongly about this, and the diets were considered as an important way of living or as a personal statement. Interestingly, the desire to lighten the diets or lose weight, was the fourth most common (10.6%) reason to favor plant-based diets but the tenth most common (1.9%) reason to avoid red meat. This linked closely to the health-related issues, especially for favoring plant-based diets, where the aim was to live healthier.
The respondents did not have any significant challenges or difficulties, doubts or questions either to avoid red meat (1.9%, the 11th most common) or to favor plant-based diets (1.6%, the 13th most common). In addition, the Finnish consumers seemed to be independent decision-makers, since family was mentioned only as the 14th most common reason (1.4%) to avoid red meat or as the ninth most common reason (2.2%) to favor plant-based diets.
Some of the answers (Figure 3
) had multiple reasons whether to avoid red meat or to favor plant-based diets. When looking at the main reasons to avoid red meat (Figure 4
), the highest connections were between the environment and ethics (c-coefficient 0.17), and between the environment and health (c-coefficient 0.14). There was also a correlation between health and ethics (c-coefficient 0.09), and between the origin of the food and particular occasions (c-coefficient 0.09). The particular occasions were often related to holidays meals, such as Christmas or Easter, or the respondents described that they consumed red meat only during exceptional occasions such as dinners in restaurants or meals hosted by someone else.
When looking at the connections between the main reasons to favor plant-based diets (Figure 4
), health-related reasons connected with environmental concerns (c-coefficient 0.13) and with weight control (c-coefficient 0.10). Respectively, the environment had a high connection with ethics (c-coefficient 0.15) which was often explained by a common concern about the environment and animal welfare.
The challenges and difficulties for avoiding red meat or favoring plant-based diets, presented an interesting study area that reflected also respondents’ attitudes. Women sometimes specified that they were reducing their red meat consumption but their spouses were not. Nevertheless, this was not explained as a challenge—rather only as a remark, and therefore there is not a connection between family members and challenges when avoiding red meat. This was opposite in the favoring plant-based diets, where the connection between family members and challenges was the highest (c-coefficient 0.17). Again, sometimes women were answering that they would increase their vegetable consumption but found it difficult because the resistant in the family. Nevertheless, it is good to acknowledge that the overall the family influence was not ranked high (Figure 3
), and therefore the connection (Figure 4
) seems higher than it might actually be.