Saturday, January 28, 2023

New Research Finds More Americans Ready to Add Plant-Based Food to Their Diets but Struggle to Go All In

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January is synonymous with new beginnings and healthy resolutions. In support of a healthy mindset, there is a growing movement to adopt a vegan lifestyle during the month of January. To gain more insights about this initiative and Americans’ attitudes toward veganism and vegan-focused products, Wakefield Research surveyed 1,000 nationally representative U.S. adults for Saputo Dairy USA’s Vitalite dairy-free cheese brand.

Whether for personal health or planetary health reasons, many Americans are intent on eating more plant-based foods, but still struggle to commit to the lifestyle. In fact, more than 2 in 5 (42%) Americans previously made a New Year’s resolutions to add more plant-based foods to their meals but did not stick to it.

And while keeping a vegan-focused New Year’s resolution might be tough, the interest in a vegan lifestyle remains high. Survey data shows 68% of Americans have tried a plant-based meat or a dairy alternative. The data also revealed that a third (31%) of Americans substitute meat, cheese or dairy with a plant-based alternative in an average of eight meals a week, suggesting that while they may not go fully vegan, there is a growing appetite to follow an occasional plant-based or flexitarian diet.

Among the 32% who have never tried plant-based alternatives, the top reason they say they won’t consider trying is the assumption that products will taste bad (45%). Additional contributing factors are not being convinced of the health benefits (23%) and not supporting veganism (16%) are also contributing factors. More than 1 in 10 (12%) say it’s because they don’t know how to cook with plant-based substitutes.

“It’s clear from our survey that while misconceptions remain about plant-based foods and vegan cheese in particular, tasty plant-based alternatives can find more room on everyone’s plates,” said David Cherrie, Saputo Dairy USA Vice President, Marketing and Innovation. “Our goal in launching the Vitalite brand was to ensure there’s a delicious and melty vegan, dairy-free cheese that addressed the misconceptions. As we begin the new year, we’re challenging consumers to give plant-based foods a go.”

Plant-based foods: Room to grow
More than one-third of Americans (34%) expressed some interest in adopting a vegan lifestyle, and 18% would be more open to doing so if they could make non-vegan exceptions, which indicates that the plant-based food market has room to grow.

In addition, the survey shows that some generations appear more eager to embrace plant-based foods. Millennials (81%) are more likely than Gen Z (68%), Gen X (67%) and Boomers (57%) to have tried plant-based alternatives.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Parent trap, gender gap. Sampling plant-based alternatives is higher among adults with kids (81%) than those without kids (61%). And the number of males (73%) who try to incorporate plant-based meat and dairy alternatives in their diets is higher than females (63%).
  • Don’t label me. More than half of Americans (56%) would be reluctant to let others know if they were vegan or vegetarian. Top reasons cited were concerns about sticking with a vegan or vegetarian diet (23%), not wanting to impose their choices on others (21%) and not wanting others who eat meat or dairy to feel judged (18%).
  • Plant-based meat, milk alternatives top the charts. When it comes to different categories of food, trying plant-based alternatives for meat (49%) and milk (46%) is most common, with only 30% having sampled vegan cheese.

You’ve got a friend in cheese
When it comes to cheese, an overwhelming 96% of Americans report they eat cheese – a lot. In fact, a majority (76%) say they’re using cheese in an average of eight meals in a typical week. One in three (33%) include cheese in up to 21 meals weekly.

The national obsession with cheese may explain why some consumers may require more convincing to give plant-based cheese a try. But for those who are willing, vegan cheese is a welcome alternative. Nearly 1 in 4 (21%) of those who have tried plant-based cheese say they love it. And a majority (66%) of those who sampled vegan cheese include it occasionally or regularly in their diets.

Among the other cheesy survey findings:

  • When the doctor says “no cheese.” Only 27% of Americans would add plant-based cheese to their diet if their doctor told them to eliminate dairy cheese. However, one in 10 (12%) would refuse to give cheese up and another 20% would still sneak it sometimes. The cheesy dishes they’d miss the most if they had to forgo dairy cheese are pizza (75%), mac and cheese (47%) and cheeseburgers (49%).
  • Fromage faux – no. There are many preconceptions about plant-based cheese, the two most common being it tastes funny (40%) and it has an odd texture (40%). A third (34%) believe it doesn’t melt at all.
  • Make it delicious. Half (50%) of Americans said that if manufacturers can develop plant-based cheese that tastes as good as dairy cheese, they would always or often include it in their diet. Parents (23%) are more likely than non-parents (15%) to say they would always include it. And males (22%) are more likely to always include it than females (14%).

Dip, melt, grill, spread with Vitalite products this new year
For those who have tried plant-based foods (68%) and the third (34%) who expressed interest in adopting a vegan lifestyle, finally, there’s Vitalite plant-based, vegan-certified, dairy-free cheese. Vitalite dairy-free cheese is available in six varieties, including mozzarella-style slices and shreds, cheddar-style slices and shreds, plus grated Parmesan-style shreds and a creamy original spread.

For those looking for plant-based cooking inspiration and ideas to add into their Veganuary meal routines, check out these easy recipes from the Vitalite brand for macaroni and cheesepizza and grilled cheese.


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