Is health of the planet more compelling than personal health?

Is health of the planet more compelling than personal health?

The recent attention being paid to plant proteins, both by ordinary consumers and the food industry, begs the question,  are consumers more willing to eat less meat to help save the planet than they are to reduce their own chances of developing heart disease?

A new generation of meat alternatives is being formulated with the help of biotechnology startup companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods to more closely replicate the flavor, texture and appearance of real meat.  Perhaps surprising is that these firms are targeting meat eaters, not vegans or vegetarians, and they are doing so by focusing on the need for the entire population to cut down on animal consumption to conserve valuable water and land resources. 

The premise that meat eaters will embrace better-tasting “plant meat” has merit.  While it is estimated that just 6% of the U.S. population considers themselves to be vegan, 36% of consumers report using meat alternatives.   Proprietary research from Packaged Facts indicates that younger adult consumers, those under age 40, seek out plant protein most.  These consumers also tend to be concerned about their own health, but they have the most at stake when it comes to ensuring there are sufficient natural resources, like land and water, for the next generation.  So, while it is true that aging Baby Boomers may give more thought to their own health (and they are the least likely to seek out plant protein, at just 8%), more altruistic, younger generations truly take on and accept as their responsibility the future health of the planet.    

Further support for the notion that sustainability may be more compelling than personal health comes from research conducted by Datassential for the Menus of Change initiative in conjunction with the Culinary Institute of America.  Findings indicate that both consumers and foodservice operators must play a role in relation to broad issues associated with public health and the environment, with the biggest contribution the foodservice industry can make toward environmental sustainability being the reduction of red meat consumption as part of a larger shift toward more plant-based dishes.   

This blog is based on our report Food Formulation and Ingredient Trends: Plant Proteins.  The report  offers a future-focused, in-depth view of plant protein ingredients and reviews some of today’s most innovative food and beverage product trends in emerging and rejuvenated categories at retail. It also explores current plant protein concepts and menus in foodservice and provides insights into consumer attitudes and behaviors related to protein ingredients in general while focusing specifically on plant proteins. Food Formulation and Ingredient Trends: Plant Proteins is available at

Don’t miss recent related reports on health, wellness, vegan, vegetarian, natural, and organic products including:

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-- by Elaine Tecklenburg