Meat scandals or no meat scandals: Germans love cheap meat and prefer to buy it at discount stores – even those who can actually afford quality. A nutritional psychologist explains why this is so.
Munich – “Meat is a piece of vitality” is a quote often used by the meat industry. It strengthens the animal raw material as a strengthening food and has been handed down since the end of the Second World War – with the constant request of the grandparents to at least eat the meat, even if one is actually already full.
Because meat was once a rare commodity. Particularly loved by Germans. In 2020, German citizens consumed an average of more than 57 kilograms of meat per capita. But it should cost as little as possible.
Meat is mass produced all over the world today. Admittedly at the expense of animal welfare. Because mass production and animal welfare are mutually exclusive. For the animals in fattening farms this means: little space, little light, cheap feed, a life in their own dirt, antibiotics and often rough handling.
And although consumers in this country have long known about the unspeakable conditions under which the meat for supermarkets and discounters is produced, they continue to grab it. Not even hygiene scandals like the one in the slaughterhouse of the meat manufacturer Tönnies near Gütersloh can prevent them from doing so.
Meat is a status symbol
But why is that so? Why do the majority of Germans eat cheap meat? Zeit.de got to the bottom of the phenomenon in an interview with the nutritional psychologist Johann Christoph Klotter. The professor of health and nutritional psychology at the Fulda University of Applied Sciences sees an explanation in the food’s prestige factor that has existed for thousands of years. Meat stands for “survival, prosperity and power”. But today, when meat is affordable for everyone, even the financially disadvantaged can symbolically participate in the general prosperity when eating meat.
Meat provides “food security”, which is why the social and ecological consequences of meat consumption are suppressed. However, the fact that higher-income earners also eat cheap meat *, although they could even afford organic quality, is a “Germany-specific” phenomenon, according to Klotters. The proportion of organic meat sold in Germany is just in the single-digit percentage range. Klotter attributes this to the fact that “Germans are generally stingy when it comes to eating”, across all shifts.
The Germans have no food culture
The Germans are only supposed to spend 13 percent of their income on food, whereas the French spend 30 percent on it. More than 2,000 years ago, historians would have written that the Teutons ate very simply. This low appreciation for good food has persisted to this day. “The Germans have no food culture” and are also not connoisseurs *, sums up Klotter. Instead of a high-quality piece of steak, Germans prefer to buy an expensive grill because they can use it to present themselves.
In addition to the preference for low prices, habit also plays a role. It ensures that people are not deterred from buying cheap meat despite rotten meat scandals. What we eat is primarily shaped by our social environment.
So if mom and dad have already reached for the frozen pork knuckle in the freezer counter, there is a good chance that their offspring will do the same. Because children learn by imitation. * Merkur.de is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA