Rising sales of plant-based foods, without a corresponding increase in the percentage of Americans who identify as vegan or vegetarian, likely indicates a greater overall interest in such products, meaning that U.S. consumers want to incorporate more plant-based options in their diets, but are unwilling to give up animal proteins altogether, according to the findings of a recent Gallup poll. These results are in keeping with the current flurry of attention generated by the “flexitarian” diet.
The poll found that fewer than one in 10 Americans describe themselves as vegetarian or vegan, with 5 percent in the United States identifying vegetarians and 3 percent as vegans – numbers that have changed little over the past few years.
As for those consumers who would cut animal products completely from their diets, Washington, D.C.-based Gallup found that they’re more likely to describe themselves as liberals (11 percent vegetarian and 5 percent vegan, versus 2 percent of self-described conservatives who identify as either); earn under $30,000 annually (9 percent vegetarian, a higher percentage than the two higher-income groups); under 50 years of age (8 percent vegetarian for those 30-49 and 7 percent for those 18-29, versus 3 percent for those 50-64 and 2 percent for those 65 and older).
The reasons that consumers may choose to eliminate meat from their diets include ethical concerns regarding animals or the environmental impact of agriculture, religious beliefs or health concerns.
Meanwhile, sales of plant-based food rose 8.1 percent in 2017 alone and surpassed $3.1 billion last year, with plant-based alternatives to dairy products soon expected to account for 40 percent of dairy beverage sales.
Poll results were based on telephone interviews conducted July 1-11, with a random sample of 1,033 adults, age 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.