Meatless Meals Becoming the New Normal for Nearly One-Third of Americans, Study Finds

Meatless Meals Becoming the New Normal for Nearly One-Third of Americans, Study Finds

A new report from Mintel says 31 percent of Americans are opting for Meatless Mondays or meatless days other days of the week, due not just to health concerns, but a growing interest in the booming plant-based foods market. Twenty-six percent said they frequently opt for plant-based meals while dining at restaurants.

“[M]ore than one third (35 percent) of Americans are eating protein more from sources other than red meat,” the research firm notes, citing 66 percent of consumers find plant-based foods to be healthier than red meat, even though some have concerns about the sodium levels found in the products.

The report cites 30 percent of consumers as saying reducing their cholesterol levels is the biggest concern when opting for plant-based foods, and 29 percent point to reducing saturated fat intake as their main goal. Others are turning toward plant-based foods to help with weight loss.

“Americans are embracing popular trends like ‘Meatless Mondays’ as an easy and consistent way to include meat-free meals into their diets in an effort to reduce meat consumption as health concerns surrounding red meat continue to grow,” Billy Roberts, Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel said in a statement.

According to the research, nearly 30 percent of new plant-based products launched in 2016 made claims of being low in calories or carbohydrates, a number up drastically from just over seven percent of product claims in 2015.

Like the ubiquity of nondairy milks, the plant-based protein market is reaching a critical and innovative phase in recent years with plant-based burgers that “bleed”, cook, and taste just like beef, and alternatives to chicken, pork, and fish all now widely available in supermarkets and leading restaurant chains across the country.

The 2016 launch of the Plant Based Foods Association, a trade group representing the plant-based foods industry, is helping to put plant-based foods in front of Washington legislators, school systems across the country, and consumers.

“We know consumers are shifting away from meat and dairy for a variety of reasons,” says Michele Simon, Executive Director of the Plant Based Foods Association. “And, as companies innovate we will certainly see more of this shift.”

The Mintel findings come just after a study found no difference in muscle health as a result of protein source–be it animal or plant-based. And last year, the largest group of nutritionists called the vegan or plant-based diet appropriate for all stages of the lifecycle.

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