Sandra Blaue
Institute of Market Analysis


Bundesallee 63
38116 Braunschweig
Phone: +49 531 596 5302
Fax: +49 531 596 5399

Changing Dietary Patterns


 (c) Thuenen-Institut

Impacts of changing dietary patterns on German agriculture

Vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians – an increasing number of people in Germany are consuming less animal-source foods. The impact analysis of these changing dietary patterns on the German agricultural sector forms the core of this project.

Background and Objective

Animal sourced foods are a major component of German diets, providing approximately 30 % of total daily calorie consumption and more than 60 % of daily protein intake (FAO 2020). However, demand for animal-based products is associated with adverse environmental and health impacts. Therefore, many consumers in Germany are questioning their dietary patterns, so that plant-based diets are becoming more popular. The individual adoption of plant-based diets is strongly influenced by certain socio-demographic factors such as age, gender and income, but on average statistics show that the consumption of meat, milk and dairy products in Germany decreased by 2.3 kg and 3.3 kg per capita respectively since 2010 (BZL 2019, 2020).

A more plant-based diet is also expected to have a significant impact on farmers, especially on those employed in the livestock sector. In Germany, one in two farms is keeping animals where livestock farming generates half of the total agricultural production value (BMEL 2019). This indicates that changing diets may not only affect consumers, but also have a complex impact on agricultural production and markets. Within this context, this project aims at determining and estimating the possible consequences of changing dietary patterns on the agricultural sector in Germany.


Changing dietary patterns have multiple impacts on the German agricultural sector, international trade and the environment. In order to estimate economic and ecological effects, we will conduct a model-based analysis using the general equilibrium model MAGNET (Modular Applied GeNeral Equilibrium Tool). The model depicts all sectors of an economy, with a specific focus on the agricultural sector and closely related sectors (e.g. biofuels). In addition, MAGNET considers domestic and international interactions between all actors and markets.


Within the project several scenarios will be implemented to analyse the effects of progressive reductions in the consumption of animal-source foods, the substitution possibilities of animal-source foods by plant-based products as well as the effects of demographic change on dietary patterns. Simulation results will show the effects on consumer spending, sectoral income, trade, welfare as well as on greenhouse gas emissions and resource use.

Our Research Questions

  • How does a shift towards more plant-based diets influence the German agricultural sector?
  • What effects can be expected from a decrease in animal-source food consumption on greenhouse gas emissions and resource use?
  • How does demographic change affect dietary patterns and thus the agricultural sector?
  • What impacts on agricultural trade would result from changing dietary patterns?  


Involved Thünen-Partners


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