Plant-based eating is a 'game-changing trend' according to an expert at the recent Institute of Food Technologists conference.
Speaking during a session called The Plant-Based Diet Evolution: The Consumer, Scientific Evidence, and Food Formulation, Steven Walton, general manager of research firm HealthFocus International, said: “I believe that plant-based eating is a game-changing trend."
He also claimed that lots of the current research into consumer eating patterns might underestimate the extent people are embracing plant-based eating.
According to Walton, research undertaken by HealthFocus shows 60 per cent of consumers are reducing their meat intake - and a massive 17 percent of 15-70 year olds follow a 'predominantly' plant-based diet, though these people don't necessarily label themselves as vegan or even vegetarian.
He says the trends in being driven by millennials and members of Generation X.
Walton added that the factors driving plant-based eating are health (longterm and daily), and concerns about animal treatment and the environment.
In addition, he says that once consumers start to eat more plant-based foods, they tend to stick with the new habit. HealthFocus research shows that 55 per cent of people who start eating a more plant-based diet say they plan to stick with it permanently - and an additional 22 per cent say they 'hope they change is a permanent one'.
Walton also addressed the barriers to following a plant-based during the session.
He believes these include lack of knowledge when it comes to food preparation, cost, convenience, availability and 'nutritional sufficiency'.
But he is optimistic. He said: "Some of these issues may be perceived. Some are real. But I think they can all be overcome."