In January 2022, Joachim Rukwied, the president of the state Farmers’ Association in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, has said he does not see the trend towards vegan nutrition as a threat to German farmers, but as an opportunity. He told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung: “It’s us farmers who grow the raw materials for the substitute products.”
Bernhard Krüsken, the Secretary-General of the German Farmers’ Association, also sees opportunities in vegan products, especially protein-rich beans such as soybeans. He said to the AFP news agency that these plant varieties have “recently gained momentum.” He said that this could be attributed to the increasing demand for plant-based substitutes or changes in agricultural policy focusing more on richer crop rotations and biodiversity.
It’s not only about reducing the number of crops for animal feed. Interestingly, given the expected cannabis legalization, it seems that many farmers in Germany are already moving to hemp cultivation. According to the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE), the total hemp fields in Germany grew 17% in 2021, reaching 6,444 hectares (16,000 acres), and the number of hemp farming operations increased 20%. Lower Saxony is the German state with more hemp farms ( 173 growers using 1,555 hectares (3,800 acres) in 2021).
The number of vegans in Germany doubled to 2.6 million in just four years. A 2020 survey undertaken by vegan food producer Veganz analysed the diet of 2,600 people in seven European countries and found that Germany had the most vegans, with the number having doubled from 1.3 million in 2016 to 2.6 million in 2020. However, although the demand for meat is declining in Germany, nine out of ten Germans continue to eat meat. This may eventually change if the farming community not only sees switching to plant-based crops for human consumption as an opportunity but animal agriculture as a liability.