Vegetarians and Vegans dissatisfied with Food Choices on Offer, despite Growing Numbers

Anyone planning to follow prevailing trends by dropping meat from their diets in today’s increasingly diverse society should take note of recent research that suggests non-meat eaters aren’t happy with the lack of food products available to them.

It appears that almost half of vegans and a quarter of vegetarians struggle to find products that satisfy their hunger, according to research from Ingredient Communications. It commissioned Surveygoo to conduct an online survey of 1000 consumers split between the UK and US.

Of these, four per cent were vegan, four per cent vegetarian and three per cent pescatarian (a diet that avoids meat but includes fish). The numbers of vegans – who avoid all animal-related products including dairy – were slightly higher in the US and significantly higher amongst 18-24 year-olds.

The survey also reveals that three in five vegetarians are considering a vegan lifestyle, and this number jumps to nine in ten in the US. Of the meat-eaters, four in ten intend to either cut down or remove meat from their diets altogether.

Despite this trend, it appears that the market isn’t catching up with dietary fashions. A whopping 46 per cent of vegans were dissatisfied with the choice of suitable food and beverage products available to them. Vegetarians are slightly happier, with just 23 per cent complaining by comparison.

The numbers increase in the US, where a larger market appears to be at the detriment of this section of society. Exactly half of the vegans on the other side of the Atlantic expressed dissatisfaction, compared to 36 per cent in the UK. Three in ten American vegetarians (31 per cent) were disappointed by the options available, versus 15 per cent in the UK.

The dissatisfaction shown is no doubt fuelled by the reasons for these dietary choices. Over 60 per cent of both groups cited animal welfare, with health factors the next most given.

Richard Clarke, Founder and Managing Director of Ingredient Communications, said: “Our research indicates the scale and pace of the shift towards vegetable-based diets. Whatever the reason for their choices – ethical, environmental or health-related ― many consumers expect the food industry to do more to keep up with them. For manufacturers of both finished products and ingredients, it’s clear that there are rewards for putting greater focus on the needs of vegans and vegetarians.”

Dr Mark JS Miller, Principal of Kaiviti Consulting added: “The merger of two related tracks are likely to be contributing to these trends. One is the trend of expected convenience, where I can get what I want when I want it, which has been fuelled by the Amazon phenomenon. The other trend is the desire for personalised health choices. Neither trend is likely to abate and so this level of dissatisfaction amongst American vegans and vegetarians is likely to continue until the market is nimble enough to adjust to the demands.”

Neil Cary, Managing Director of Surveygoo also notes the rise in new dietary trends, such as pescatarianism, suggesting that the market needs to catch up. “In the past, there was more or less a binary choice between eating meat or not. Our research suggests high numbers of people are adopting a more nuanced, flexible approach to their diets and lifestyles.”