The Plant-Based Food Habits of Modern Families

by Maureen Frost
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With plant-based eating finding a home in the mainstream in recent years, it looks like this trend may only increase due to a continued shift in eating patterns and widening availability of plant-based alternative foods. The focus on plant-based foods comes from a variety of reasons surrounding health, sustainability, and ethics, just to name a few. The appeal towards this lifestyle stems from the flexibility it offers by adding plant-based foods to your meals without totally upheaving your eating habits (although some may choose to eat strictly plant-based). Instead, plant-based foods offer better choices that you can add in to elevate your family’s menu. We recently surveyed our Moms Meet community to see where their and their family members’ habits and preferences fit into the plant-based movement.

What Moms are Buying

Our Plant-Based Foods and Dietary Choices survey showed that our Moms, a widely health-conscious group, are amongst those actively incorporating plant-based foods into their diets. When asked what plant-based alternatives Moms bought in the past six months, beans and milk topped the list with more than half buying these items. Reflecting Moms Meet Moms’ typical high levels of interest in healthy snacks, plant-based snacks placed in the third position. Almost one in two Moms purchased them along with mushrooms and protein drinks/shakes/mixes.

Some particularly interesting findings were the popularity of veggie rice and noodles purchased by over 40% of Moms. Roughly one in three also buy plant-based coffee creamer and frozen meals. Categories on the rise are cauliflower pizza (20%), breakfast sandwiches (18%), and “seafood” (17%).

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The Moms Meet community consumes plant-based food at a much higher rate than the general U.S. population based on our survey results. According to The NPD Group, “14% of U.S. consumers regularly use plant-based alternatives such as almond milk, tofu, and veggie burgers, and 86% of these consumers do not consider themselves vegan or vegetarian.” Our survey showed that 54% of our Moms use plant-based milk (87% of which is almond milk), 23% eat tofu, and 39% consume plant-based burgers.

Why they’re buying

Given the prevalence of usage amongst our audience and their inclination towards healthy eating, it makes sense that over half of our consumers add plant-based foods into their diets for nutrition and health reasons. “Nutrition and health” is cited with twice the frequency as “Taste preference” as a reason for incorporating plant-based foods into diets (66% vs. 25%, respectively).

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These findings may seem surprising. However, Moms Meet Moms routinely indicate their desire for healthier products for their family and are willing to sacrifice taste, if necessary. In a recent Moms Meet Sampling Program of a meat-alternative burger patty, the main reasons given for purchasing meat alternatives was believing that plant-based foods are healthier (76%). Food manufacturers are finding ways to duplicate the taste of the “real thing” and satisfy both the desire for good nutrition and taste at the same time.

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Participants deemed to be high plant-based food users based on their survey responses had more reasons for choosing to eat plant-based than those who were considered moderate or low users. Not surprisingly, high plant-based users cited opposition to eating animals or their by-products with, on average, six times the frequency as moderate and low users.

Almost six in ten Moms Meet consumers reported that they now eat more plant-based foods than they did last year. Of those eating more, almost half are using these foods to offset their meat consumption. The same amount also plan to increase their plant-based food intake even more in the coming year. Interestingly, most of those surveyed still eat meat even if the addition of plant-based foods has allowed them to add variety and cut down on their meat consumption.

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Vegans, Vegetarians, Heavy users

The incidence of veganism and vegetarianism in the U.S. population has remained relatively unchanged since 2012. According to a recent Gallup Poll, 3% and 5% of Americans identify as vegans and vegetarians respectively, yet the incidence among the Moms Meet audience is considerably higher. One third (30%) identify themselves or their family members as vegans (11%) or vegetarians (19%). The primary reason for the larger incidence is the fact that our audience is comprised of health-conscious parents. In fact, 70% of them actively educate themselves on different dietary choices.

Even though most individuals surveyed study up on their diets, those considered high plant-based-food users tend to take it a step further. Results showed this subset to have higher levels of personal conviction and investment in their lifestyle activities related to diet than those in the moderate or low plant-based food usage categories. High users are more likely to give money to organizations that support their dietary choices and participate in the art of persuasion towards those not already following their lifestyle.

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An opportunity for retailers and restaurateurs

There’s much opportunity for growth in this arena from a seller’s standpoint. Only about a third of those polled are “very satisfied” with the accessibility in grocery stores and online. Satisfaction goes down even more when it comes to the availability in restaurants, with less than two in 10 individuals surveyed saying they are very satisfied with their eating out options. Retailers and restaurants should seize on these opportunities to deliver more options in these evolving categories.

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What do our Moms Want Next?

When it comes to product sampling, our Moms are looking for more opportunities to try plant-based alternatives in the areas of snacks, ice cream, frozen dessert, veggie noodles and rice, cauliflower pizza, protein drinks, burgers/patties, breakfast sandwiches, and milk most. What’s clear from this survey is that brands who are looking to market their plant-based foods should look no further than our plant-based-friendly audience to gain loyal customers and exposure.

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Do you have a plant-based food that you would like to get into the hands of our highly-engaged Mom Influencers? Contact us to learn more.

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