Today is World Vegan Day so I thought I would write something about plant-rich diets and why I am increasingly optimistic about what I am seeing happening.

Rudy’s Reuben – seitan pastrami sandwich

1) Tasty meat free alternatives

If you want to encourage new people to pursue plant-based diets or to encourage people to reduce their meat and dairy consumption, you need to have tasty alternatives to pique people’s interest. Then when they try the plant-based alternatives, they need to be flavoursome.

The truth is, that in the past, many plant-based meat alternatives were poor imitations of their meat counterparts. They would either be lacking in taste or texture or both. This led to ridicule and meant that only those who were most committed to pursuing a plant-based diet would buy and eat these items.

Thankfully, those days are over. Nowadays, whether in the supermarket aisle or on your local high street, you are never far away from a tasty plant-based meal.

2) Corporate self interest

Its hard to believe, but the two big players Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat were only founded in 2011 and 2012 respectively. In what is only a short period of time, they have both grown significantly and helped to raise the quality and profile of plant-based meat alternatives.

The real holy grail of the vegan and vegetarian food sector is to attract the significant number of meat eaters and to get them to eat pant based alternatives, rather than targeting products at the vegan and vegetarian community.

Interestingly, this Clean Technica article showed that sales of Impossible Burgers are displacing animal-derived foods for 72% of total purchases. This is really encouraging and shows that the problems of the past were likely a combination of poor marketing and a low-quality product offering, which meant that the meat alternatives of the past were not able to secure any traction in the much larger market of meat eaters.

There has been lots of other activity in this sector. Whether it is Unilever’s acquisition of Dutch brand The Vegetarian Butcher, or KFC launching their own Vegan burger, 2019 and 2020 has seen a massive increase in corporate activity in the vegan and vegetarian food sector.

3) Increasing environmental awareness

There is no doubt that some of the increasing interest in plant-based alternatives is being driven by a heightened environmental awareness amongst the general population.

For a long time, people associated, driving, flying and the use of electricity with their personal carbon footprint. But now with tools like WWF’s personal carbon footprint calculator, everyone has the opportunity to find out that when it comes to climate change, we very much are what we eat.

Project Drawdown ranked plant-rich diets as the third most powerful solution that is required to reduce carbon emissions, so there can be no doubt about the importance of decarbonisation in this sector.

What you need to know

This article looked into 3 reasons why I am optimistic about a transition to plant rich diets.

Firstly, the quantity and quality of plant based alternatives has increased dramatically of late.

Secondly, whether thanks to early adopters or late comers who don’t want to miss out, there is now a significant amount if corporate activity that is leading to continuous improvement in plant based alternatives.

Lastly, wherever people are getting their information from, it is encouraging that more people are aware of the link between their diet and climate change. This isn’t something which is going away any time soon and so hopefully this awareness can result in real and meaningful change over the long term

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think is the most exciting development in plant based alternatives?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

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