Washington: The number of consumers who are reducing their consumption of animal-based products is on the rise in the US, a new study has found.
Professionals from the Institute of Food Technologists have also found that the number of consumers who follow strict vegetarian or vegan diets in the US is relatively small, Newswise reported.
These “occasional” vegetarians, who are also called flexitarians, can be categorized into two groups, semi-vegetarians and meat reducers.
While semi-vegetarians follow a vegetarian diet part of the time, but still eat some meat and dairy products, meat reducers are not trying to follow a vegetarian diet, but are just trying to reduce the amount of meat they eat.
As a result of the increasingly popular flexitarian lifestyle, large food manufacturers like Kraft Foods, ConAgra Foods, General Mills, and others have acquired smaller vegetarian food producers or launched their own lines of vegetarian food products.
In the past, processed vegetarian burgers were bland and tough, and usually only die-hard vegetarians were the targeted consumers, but there are an increasing number of people who are interested in eating healthier or want to reduce their meat intake without sacrificing taste.
Whereas today, updates in processing technologies, food flavours and sauces are making it possible for vegetarian food manufacturers to create foods with more meat-like textures, better flavour and convenience that are more appealing to flexitarian consumers.
Up until recently, soy and wheat protein were the main proteins used in vegetarian meal options, but today with so many people having soy and wheat protein allergies, vegetable protein, from sources such as peas, are being used.
The study has been recently published in Food Technology magazine.