Are diners still ordering meat off the menu?

As more people turn to vegetarian, vegan, and flexitarian lifestyles, are people still ordering meat off the menu? The short answer is, yes. According to a recent study from Dalhousie University, while plant-based products are still popular, sales have dropped in recent months.

Results showed that while 48.2 per cent of participants feel that plant-based meat alternatives are improving, price is still a deterrent for some. “The market and plant-based products clearly remain a work in progress, but price is unsurprisingly the biggest hurdle,” said Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. Only 22 per cent of people considered plant-based meat alternatives to be affordable, as Canadian struggle with continued inflation.

The study showed that 34 per cent of Canadians had consumed a plant-based meat alternative in the last 12 months, with 31 per cent consuming them weekly. What is driving people to consume these products? From health benefits (30.7 per cent) to personal taste (12.6 per cent) to environmental concerns (12.1 per cent) and animal welfare (8.9 per cent), there are a host of reasons that plant-based proteins are being consumed.

However, consumers are becoming savvier about this sector, with 33.5 per cent believing that they are more informed about plant-based protein than they were last year. When asked whether they still plan to purchase these products over the next six months, 39.4 per cent responded “very likely to buy.”

Despite the continuing rise of alternative diets, meat is still the top choice for many. When asked about their preferred source of protein, 49.2 per cent chose animal protein, 28.1 chose a combination of meat and plant-based, and 12.3 per cent preferred only plant-based sources of protein.

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So, while many Canadians are adjusting their diets and lifestyles, meat remains the top choice for most diners as a protein source, leaving room for restaurants to fill their menus with all sorts of protein dishes to appeal to their guests.