For anyone living a vegan lifestyle, plant-based food is far more than a “trend” — it’s part of a fundamental philosophy. In mainstream culture, however, animal products still dominate.
The good news is, consumers are gradually catching on to the importance of healthier, more sustainable, more humane foods.
This change in culinary preferences is revealing itself through data — the market for non-dairy products is skyrocketing; meat alternatives sales are expected to reach $5 Billion by 2020; and more than 1/3 of consumers are open to plant-based products.
Mintel, the global leader in market intelligence, included animal product alternatives in its Global Food and Drink Trends 2016 report. The section, entitled “Alternatives Everywhere,” read as follows:
Veggie burgers and non-dairy milks have escaped the realm of substitutes primarily for people with dietary concerns and followers of vegetarian diets. Instead, the growing ranks of novel protein sources and potential replacements appeal to the everyday consumer, foreshadowing a profoundly changed marketplace in which what was formerly ‘alternative’ could take over the mainstream.
This is consistent with another report Mintel released earlier this year that analyzed the meat alternatives market in the U.S. It identified Millennials as the generation most likely to consume plant-based proteins. “Almost a third of Millennials (30%) indicate they consume any meat alternative product every day, with 70% consuming them at least a few times a week, notably more than any other generation, and coupled with the size and spending power of Millennials, indicates a strong potential market for meat alternatives in the future,” wrote Billy Roberts, Senior Food and Drink Analyst with Mintel.
Mintel wasn’t the only one to address the rise in plant-based food options. Baum + Whiteman, a global food and restaurant consultants group (the folks behind the late Windows on the World in the Twin Towers), included vegetables on its list of the top 11 trends on tap for 2016. The agency wrote: “We’ve reached a tipping point for vegetables. They’re pushing animal protein to the side of the plate … or entirely off it. Relentlessly rising beef prices, horror over hormones, a scramble for ever-more antioxidants, health-and-diet concerns, growth of farmers markets, locavore drummers, increasing numbers of flexitarians … all the stars have nicely aligned.”
Yahoo Food also added veggies to its 16 Food Trends list, with an item entitled “Veggies Take Center Stage.” It read, in part: “Move over, meat! Now, more than ever, vegetables are taking on the starring roles on many restaurant menus, as chefs are challenging themselves to create tasty, hearty entrees from plants alone.”
A list by the buyers of Whole Foods Market had “Plant-Based Everything” at number five. “This year’s plant-forward movement will be all about harnessing the power of plants – from quinoa protein in hair care products to vitamin-rich veggies in frozen dessert pops,” it read.
Plant-based options are everywhere these days — from fast food menus to steakhouses. Times are changing, and if the trend-watchers are correct, it looks like 2016 will bring even more milestones for the vegan movement.