What's driving consumer desire for meatless products?

Hoang NguyenData Journalist
June 08, 2021, 1:07 PM UTC

There's strong consumer demand for meat substitutes such as plant-based proteins in places such as the United States and Great Britain. New research from YouGov finds large shares of adults in both markets say they consume meat substitutes at least once a month. In order to help brands and retailers keep up with the food trend, we dug even deeper to understand why consumers are developing a taste for meatless meat. 
 
How often do people consume meatless products? 
 
In the US, roughly three in ten Americans (29%) say they eat meatless products at least once a month or more frequently, and that rises to 40% among US adults aged 18 to 44. Overall, 52% of Americans say they don’t consume meat substitutes.  
 
Roughly two in five British adults say they eat meatless products on a monthly or more frequent basis. Like the US, meat substitutes are more popular with young people and 54% of Britons aged 18 to 39 eat them at least once a month.

Regular meat eaters also partake in meatless products. One in five meat-eating Americans (19%) and almost a third of meat-eating Brits (31%) say they consume meatless products at a monthly or more frequent basis.  
 
People who identify as flexitarians (i.e., they sometimes eat meat and fish) over-index in their consumption of meatless products when compared to their respective overall population (46% of US flexitarians vs. 29% of US adults; 52% of GB flexitarians vs. 42% of GB adults). 
 

What factors drive the consumption of meatless meat? 
 
Consumers are in market for meatless products for a variety of reasons. The leading motivator among Americans who consume meatless products at least once a month is the perception that these products are healthier than their meat counterparts (47%).  
 
Ethical consumerism also appears to be a key driver in the meatless food trend. Roughly two in five (37%) in this consumer segment say they eat meatless products because they think they benefit the environment, and a third (33%) say it’s because they think meatless products are more ethical than meat products.  
 
Age and one’s dietary preference play into some key differences of why people indulge in meatless products. Americans under the age of 45 (43%) and people who identify as flexitarians (49%) are significantly more likely say they eat meat substitutes based on the belief that they benefit the environment. 
 
Meat-eating Americans are significantly less likely to eat meatless products for their environmental benefits (31%) and instead, price is a key motivator for this group. One In five meat eaters in the US say they eat meat substitutes because they can purchase them at a price equal to or cheaper than meat products (20% vs. 17% of US adults).

Discover more FMCG content here. 
 
Start building a survey now with YouGov Direct 
 
Methodology:  
 
YouGov polled 1,200 US adults online on May 19, 2021 between 10:19 a.m. and 12:18 p.m. EST. The survey was carried out through YouGov Direct. Data is weighted by age, gender, education level, political affiliation, and ethnicity. Results are nationally representative of adults in the United States. The margin of error is 4.2% for the overall sample. Learn more about YouGov Direct. 
 
YouGov polled 1,200 British adults online on May 19, 2021 between 3:07 p.m. and 4:03 p.m. BST. The survey was carried out through YouGov Direct. Data is weighted by age, gender, education level, region, and social grade. Results are nationally representative of adults in Great Britain. The margin of error is 4.9% for the overall sample. Learn more about YouGov Direct.