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Study: Consumers Favor the Term “Plant-Based” Over “Vegan”

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The vegan movement is becoming popular as more people are trying to live healthy lives. Vegan food products do not contain any animal products (or by-products). In fact, around 800 companies worldwide have made vegan products and have partnered with organizations such as Vegan Action to market vegan food products.

But while veganism is considered a solid movement, another movement is coming to the forefront – the plant-based diet. While the two terms are often interchanged with one another, the latter has a broader definition ranging from excluding animal-based product to just adding more fresh produce to your diet.

Increasing Number of People Opting for the Plant-Based Diet

In a survey conducted by HealthFocus International, about 17% of consumers in the United States consume predominantly a plant-based diet while 60% say they are cutting back on meat-based products.  And those who are cutting back on meat reveal that they don’t plan to go back to their massive meat-eating habits and would want to make this flexitarian lifestyle permanent.

According to Steven Walton, General Manager of Research at HealthFocus International, the change in consumer preference with regards to consuming more produce is prevalent through a wide variety of demographics. This means that this diet is not only popular among millennials but even the baby boomers and generation Z. Industry leaders can benefit from this information, but they might be too distracted by the many words that have sprung up such as vegetarian, flexitarian, and vegan.

Vegan vs. Plant-Based in Consumer Minds

With this confusion, many consumers prefer a singular term when describing the diet. According to a California-based food consultant, Mattson, more than 80% of people surveyed indicated that they prefer the terms “plant-based” over “vegan” when describing a diet that avoids all types of animal products.

While the term “vegan” is often used, “plant-based” is more flexible and gives consumers the impression that the food tastes better and it more likened to whole foods. Mattson president, Barb Stuckey, noted that that the term “plant-based” is more positive and does not include deprivation or allegiance to a self-defining cause such as environmentalism or animal rights, which veganism is known for. By using the term “plant-based,” any conversation about plant-based food becomes neutral and does not incite any negative reactions from other people including ethical vegans.

Why are People Opting for a Plant-Based Diet?

There are many reasons why many people shift to the plant-based diet. Based on the survey, 3 out of 4 individuals noted that they would like to consume more plant-based foods for health reasons while others opt for this diet to lose weight or contribute something to the environment.

As more consumers are more welcoming to the term “plant-based,” food manufacturers have also caught up. Companies like Good Karma Food launched its non-dairy yogurt and sales have continued to increase 50% yearly. Other companies such as Beyond Meat introduced its plant-based chicken strips and burgers that vegan consumers have embraced with much gusto. Having said this, the popularity of the “plant-based” term has resulted in a new and ever-growing niche.

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