Nearly half of global consumers predict that plant-based food will be the norm within a decade, new research indicates.
Almost 30,000 people, across 31 countries, provided data to research firm GlobeScan. Surveys were conducted in partnership with non-profit EAT, which advocates for a sustainable food system.
The latter’s Grains of Truth 2022 report, which publishes world views on healthy and equitable food options, documented the findings.
Consumer attitudes towards meat
Forty-two percent of those surveyed stated that “most people will definitely or probably” be eating plant-based food instead of animal meat in the next 10 years. Respondents living in Africa and Asia were most likely to say the same, along with younger individuals.
The new report also highlights a rise in the number of people adopting vegetarian or vegan diets themselves.
In 2019, 17 percent of people polled said they eat “vegetarian/vegan food” most or all of the time. In the 2022 report, this had risen to 22 percent.
“The fact that so many people around the world are becoming more interested in eating healthy and sustainable food is an encouraging sign,” EAT founder Dr. Gunhild Stordalen said in a statement.
“A few years ago it would be unthinkable that 42 percent of people globally would believe plant-based food will replace meat inside a decade. But the public is starting to understand the escalating climate and nature crises and the dangers it brings to their everyday lives as it intertwines with the pandemic, the war against Ukraine, and the accelerating cost of living crisis.”
Indeed, more than half (51 percent) of those surveyed stated that they are concerned about food security. Food shortages, as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing war against Ukraine, were named a “serious concern” by 60 percent of participants.
Further, a total of 92 percent of respondents said that their regular food bill was higher than before.
Still, making environmentally conscious food choices was important to a majority of consumers. Of those polled, 80 percent claimed that buying sustainable and responsible food is a priority to them. Meanwhile, 64 percent stated they are happy to pay more for such items, even during the cost of living crisis.
Growing interest in plant-based eating
The Grains of Truth 2022 report highlights an uptick in meat-free curiosity across all age groups. Gen Z (12 to 26 years old) and Millennials (aged 26-41) are leading the charge, with 40 and 43 percent respectively stating interest in plant-based eating.
However, Gen X (aged 42 to 57) and Baby Boomers (58 to 76 years old) are not lagging too far behind.
Thirty-seven percent of the Gen X group said they are keen to try plant-based foods. More than a quarter (28 percent) of “Boomers” stated that they are very interested in plant-based diets.
The new report aligns with similar research into the public’s attitude towards meat. A Good Food Institute-commissioned survey suggested that half of those in Western Europe have reduced their meat intake in the last five years.
Ditch meat for climate health, experts say
Consumer openness to plant-based eating comes at a pertinent time.
Many climate scientists maintain that plant-based diets are a valuable tool against the worsening climate crisis. This is due, in part, to the vast amount of greenhouse gases generated as a result of animal agriculture – at least 14.5 percent of the world’s total emissions.
Deforestation also remains a key issue. One of the world’s largest sequestering sites, the Amazon rainforest, has been so intensively felled to support animal farms that it now emits more carbon than it absorbs for the first time.