Sustainable eating and plant-based diets

17th February 2020

17 February 2020

Sustainable eating and drinking not just confined to plant-based diets

Dietary habits are changing across the globe, as consumers look to adopt healthier and more environmentally friendly eating and drinking habits. An FMCG Gurus survey of 26,000 respondents conducted in Q3 2019 found that in the last two years, 45% of consumers say that they have changed their diets in order to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Linked to this and consumers embracing the concept of Good for Me, Good for the Earth, a total of 55% also said that such dietary habits are healthier.

When it comes to changing dietary plans, consumers are more likely to be reducing their meat intake as opposed to adopting strict vegan diets. Indeed, of those who have made changes to their diets, 33% said that they have looked to reduce or eliminate their intake of meat as opposed to 10% who say that they are now following a strict vegan diet. It must be remembered that irrespective of concerns towards the environment, consumers will prioritize me-centric product attributes when it comes to choosing food and drink. FMCG Gurus research shows that across the whole population, a total of 51% said that they struggle to give up meat in the long-term. Meanwhile, 42% confess that they think plant-based food to be bland and boring. This is something that needs to be taken into consideration when it comes to analyzing the long-term and mainstream appeal of plant-based diets.

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Of the consumers who have changed their diets in the last two years, the main motivation for doing so was that they are concerned about the state of the environment overall (51%). When it comes to actions taken to make their diets more ethical and environmentally friendly, the most common strategy adopted has been to make greater efforts to avoid food waste (48%) and turn to more local food and drink (46%). Both these answers were more popular than reducing/eliminating meat intake and following a vegan diet.

The findings serve to highlight two issues. Firstly, it is important not to over-estimate the extent that consumers are adopting plant-based diets. After all, flexitarian diets that are associated with meat consumption in moderation are proving to be more popular than vegan diets. Secondly, the desire to lead a healthier and more sustainable diet is not just restricted to following plant-based diets. For instance, locally sourced food will not only be deemed healthier by many but also more sustainable due to a reduced carbon footprint.

Finally, if more consumers are going to adopt plant-based diets in the long-term, more needs to be done by the industry to reassure consumers that such products are tasty and that eliminating meat intake is not necessarily something that creates feelings of sacrifice because of the availability of adequate substitutes.

For more information on our Sustainability surveys and our Meat vs Plant-Based Protein surveys please click here.

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