American consumers are eating more plant-based foods these days, especially adults under age 35 and those actively following a specific diet. This is according to findings published in the new report Vegan, Vegetarian, and Flexitarian Consumers by leading market research firm Packaged Facts.

Rather than presumably indicating an increased adoption of vegan or vegetarian lifestyles, the uptick in plant-based food consumption hints at wider acceptable of flexitarianism.

"Although the population of vegetarians and vegans has remained relatively stable over time and currently makes up a small portion of consumers, flexitarianism is much more widespread," says Jennifer Mapes-Christ, Packaged Facts' food and beverage publisher.

Packaged Facts' August 2020 National Online Consumer Survey asked consumers which diet or eating philosophy they are currently primarily following. The results show that just 3% of consumers follow a vegan diet, 3% of consumers are pescatarian, and 5% of consumers are vegetarian. The majority (53%) of consumers are primarily omnivorous, while 36% of consumers identify themselves as flexitarian because they eat meat or poultry and regularly mix up their diet with vegan or vegetarian meals.

"Despite use of plant-based meat-alternative or dairy-alternative products being highest among those following vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian diets, omnivores and flexitarians make up the lion's share of consumers who eat these products due to their sheer numbers. This reveals that both the current and addressable market for plant-based products depends on omnivores and flexitarians using more of these products," says Mapes-Christ.

It is worth noting that flexitarians express healthy eating and consumption of fresh produce at relatively high rates, suggesting that many people may choose this eating pattern as a way to have better balance in their lives. Rather than completely eliminating dairy or meat, flexitarians consider a well-balanced diet to contain more vegetables and fruits and less meat or dairy in either portion sizes or presence in meals (compared to some omnivores who may be used to eating meat with most meals or large servings of meat).


Learn more about the report: