Plant–based food choices rise

The trend now includes fast food chains

Photo by Franco DeBartolo on Unsplash.

1 min read
New City, Philippines

Plant–based  food choices rise

The trend now includes fast food chains

Industrial animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but more and more people are choosing to make a change with their diets.

A 2020 study of retail traffic data conducted by Ipsos Retail Performance found that over 9.7 million Americans are now following plant-based diets, up from only 290,000 in 2004. That’s 9.4 million more people in only 15 years.

It is estimated that close to 3% of Americans—or 10 million people—are vegan or vegetarian. This number itself hasn’t changed much, which indicates that people are not labeling themselves as vegan or vegetarian, but are still enjoying more plant-based foods and eating a more plant-based diet.

The pandemic has certainly had an impact on consumer habits, which includes grocery shopping and food choices. Nearly 1 in 5 people (18%) in the U.K. reported eating less meat than pre-pandemic times, and a similar percentage said that, even after the pandemic has passed, they’ll remain fully vegan or vegetarian. And, between 2019 and 2021, the percentage of consumers who identify as “meat eaters” fell from 85% to 71%, according to an annual report by the Food Industry Association.

Interest in plant-based meat and dairy alternatives is also growing. The plant-based food industry is a $7 billion enterprise and is expected to be valued at over $162 billion by 2030. The health benefits of eating less meat are likely driving the surge; plant-based diets are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even severe cases of COVID-19.

Major fast-food chains are joining the trend and making meatless options widely available. Panda Express introduced their Beyond Meat Orange Chicken at several locations this year, which sold out in under two weeks. Chipotle is rolling out their new plant-based chorizo, and KFC has announced their plans for plant-based chicken nuggets. Fine dining has also taken the meatless movement in stride, including the famous Geranium in Copenhagen—named the 2nd best restaurant in the world this year—and the famous Eleven Madison Park in New York City.

Join the conversation. Send your thoughts to the editor Jon Sweeney.