Photo source: Ingredion Inc.
Although demand for plant-based alternatives remains strong, many “proclaimed” flexitarians are still confused on the terminology of this lifestyle. A new study conducted by Danone North America found that only 24% of Americans correlate the flexitarian diet with being flexible and nonrestrictive. This is why it is paramount that dairy foods marketers do a better job of explaining that dairy is allowed in a flexitarian lifestyle…and even better, that dairies offer plant-based options, too.
The studied showed that younger generations have a higher level of understanding, yet only one in five adults were correctly able to define the flexitarian-eating style. A mere 19% of surveyed consumers recognized that moderate amounts of meat are allowed in a flexitarian diet, and only 12% recognized the inclusion of dairy products.
There’s no denying that the demand for plant-based foods is strong. The flexitarian style of eating has been declared the food trend of the year by many trend trackers.
Ingredion Inc., today’s blog sponsored, sampled two plant-based dairy-type prototypes at the recent IFT FIRST. There was a butterfly jasmine plant-based milk tea made with pea protein isolate and sweetened with allulose and fermented sugarcane Reb M. The drink also included soluble prebiotic fiber. There was also a high-protein, reduced sugar sour cherry rose swirled coconut chai frozen dessert bar.
The Danone study found that while 20% of Americans identify as flexitarian or reducetarian, another similar trend that is focused on reducing instead of eliminating meat, more than half of Americans (54%) were not yet familiar with the term. Meanwhile, 84% of American adults indicated that they were familiar with veganism, yet that eating approach has the smallest following (1%), followed by only 3% of Americans identifying as vegetarian (ovo-lacto). Most Americans (42%) still eat meat and dairy nearly daily.
“Flexitarianism is one of the simplest, non-restrictive plant-forward styles of eating that enables people to get the nutrition benefits they want and need without abandoning the foods they love,” said Kristie Leigh, registered dietitian nutritionist from Scientific Affairs at Danone North America. “As a leader in both plant-based and dairy products, we consider ourselves a flexitarian company and want to educate the public on the benefits of incorporating dairy in a plant-based diet to help overcome some common misperceptions.”
Six Myths (and facts) about Plant-Based Eating
While interest in the topic continues to grow, there is a ton of consumer confusion when it comes to understanding the various plant-based eating styles out there. The new consumer survey revealed seven major myths on plant-based, and specifically flexitarian eating styles.
Myth 1. Flexitarian isn’t a plant-based diet.
Fact: More than 9 out of 10 Americans (91%) did not consider flexitarian as a type of plant-based diet, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Flexitarian is a plant-based diet but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy meat and dairy in moderation. This style of eating is abundant in plants and is still considered a plant-based or plant-forward approach. It provides the same health benefits while being less rigid and restrictive.
Myth 2. A flexitarian diet is difficult to follow.
Fact: As the name suggests, flexitarian is a combination of the words “flexible” and “vegetarian,” which are the main benefits of this approach. Yet nearly three-quarters (73%) of Americans mistakenly believe that a flexitarian diet is not easy to follow or maintain over time. Flexitarianism gives consumers the option to allow for both plant-based and animal-based foods in their daily lifestyle.
Myth 3: A plant-based diet is likely to be inadequate in protein.
Fact: It is possible to consume adequate amounts of protein when increasing plant foods, especially with a flexitarian approach that includes dairy. Yet two-thirds of Americans (66%) failed to recognize that dairy contains high-quality protein, which is especially important when reducing meat consumption. Similarly, nearly three-fourths of Americans (73%) do not think plant-based dairy alternatives, such as soy, provide high-quality protein.Photo source: Ingredion Inc.