A new report from Sysco indicates that more U.S. consumers may be willing to reduce the level of meat-based protein in their diets in favor of plant-based proteins. At a recent Menu of Change conference, nutrition experts reported that consumers continue to eat significantly more protein than is recommended. But, U.S. adults who are particularly interested in eating local and maintaining a sustainable lifestyle realize that a diet heavy in plant-based protein is environmentally friendlier than the meat-based alternatives.
The interest in a modified diet has encouraged more chefs to introduce plant-based meals, especially in restaurants. More food marketers are promoting their products in association with meatless Monday meals. And, this year, the National Restaurant Association reports that vegetarian appetizers are a hot new trend. Popular plant-based ingredients range from kale to quinoa and garbanzo beans to cashews. The growing numbers of immigrants in the U.S. are also impacting eating habits. Consumers are now more willing to experiment with different methods of cooking plant-based proteins. Grilled mushrooms, vegetables mixed with oils, and grains blended with unusual herbs and spices can pique the American palate and increase demand for new recipes.
At the same time, experts say that consumer concern about diet, as it relates health, is growing. Chefs and restaurant operators believe the interest in a plant-based diet is not a trend. The shift is steady, gradual and here to stay.
The Harris Poll finds that 4% of U.S. adults are strictly vegetarian while 43% of other consumers try to eat several vegetarian meals at least once a week. About 66% of vegetarians are female according to Ad-ology Research. 56% of these consumers are under age 35. In the next 12 months, these consumers are more likely than average to purchase craft or sewing supplies, a new purse or handbag, and perfume. Over 30% of these consumers have started an online search as a result of reading a blog in the past year, which is 87% higher than average.
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