New research indicates that nearly 25 percent of Americans are eating less meat than ever before. Consumers are reducing their meat consumption, embracing a flexitarian diet, and eating more plant-based foods for the sake of personal and planetary health.
Last September, data analytics company Gallup conducted telephone interviews with a random sample of 2,431 American adults aged 18 and above. According to the poll, nearly one in four Americans—23 percent—reported eating less meat in the past year.
Certain demographics are also more likely than others to reduce their meat consumption. Women are twice as likely as men to cut back on meat, and nonwhites report a higher rate of reduction than whites.
The most commonly cited method of cutting back on meat was smaller portion sizes, while seventy-one percent of Americans said they substitute vegetables and other ingredients. Sixty-nine percent of participants removed meat entirely from some of their meals.
According to Gallup, more than a third of meat reducing Americans—36 percent—said that they purchase and eat plant-based meat alternatives.
Flexitarian Diet and Health
Seventy percent of participants listed health concerns as the primary motivator for their flexitarian diet. Forty-nine percent reported environmental concerns as a major reason for ditching meat. According to the Planetary Health Diet, created by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health, reducing meat consumption is essential for both personal and planetary health.
Globally, the plant-forward Planetary Health Diet requires a 50 percent reduction in red meat and sugar consumption. It also suggests a 50 percent increase in fruit, vegetables, and pulses. Last year, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that eating less meat could have the biggest impact on reducing climate change.
Americans Love Vegan Food
According to market intelligence company Numerator, 80 percent of Americans would like to swap out meat for vegan alternatives. Nielsen, a data measurement firm, says that plant-based meat sales skyrocketed by 10.2 percent in 2019, reaching $946.6 million.
This significant increase in plant-based sales has been attributed to meat-reducers and flexitarianism; a popular label for flexible vegetarians. Vegan meat, in particular, is the most popular plant-based product on the market.