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40% of Consumers are Flexitarians
While the number of true vegetarians and vegans has remained low and constant over the years, the number of Flexitarians---people who are reducing their meat consumption---has increased significantly.

According to the latest poll, roughly 40% of Americans choose to sometimes avoid meat. Three years ago, that figure was estimated at 25%.

One of the big drivers behind this trend is the success of Meatless Mondays. Started in 2003 in the US, the campaign has caught on over the past two years, thanks to high profile support from people including Oprah and Mario Batali. Half of all Americans are now aware of it, and 27% of those aware say it has convinced them to eat less meat.

Going meatless has two main benefits: improving people’s health and improving the planet’s health. As with many other green trends, consumers are more inspired by the personal benefits than the societal benefits. Understanding that eating less meat reduces the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes is very compelling. Learning that it also uses less water and fossil fuel is a nice extra.

The key barriers to Flexitarianism are habits and protein myths. Many people have no desire to change what they eat. A smaller group mistakenly believes they will not get enough protein if they don’t have meat every day. The reality is the average American eats far more protein than needed.

We should think about...
  • How can we encourage Flexitarianism?
  • Could we leverage Meatless Mondays in our marketing efforts?
Sources: Meatless Monday Campaign 2011; New York Times 2011; Telegram 2011; Washington Post 2011
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