Here come the vegan and plant-based launches. During the pandemic, more meatless and dairy-free products have been flying off the shelves of stores both here in the US and in the UK, and big companies are taking notice and preparing to launch their new slate of plant-based and vegan treats, meats, and everything in between. The good news: You don't have to be plant-based or vegan to love the taste of these new offerings, or benefit from the healthier-for-you saturated-fat-free and fiber-filled plant-protein foods.

Bloomberg Business News just reported that the world appears to be losing its taste for meat. Perhaps it was all the sickness that rolled through the meat processing plants in May and June, but the sales of meat have gone down as production fell for only the second time since 1961. Bloomberg reports that it’s headed for another decline this year. 

"Beef is clearly declining as a percentage of total meat production—that’s huge for the climate," Bloomberg reported today. "Emissions from its production are about 10 times higher than from either pork or chicken."

While consumers are turning away from meat and dairy and choosing meatless and dairy-free options in record numbers, investors are jumping at the chance to capitalize on the trend, flowing more than $1 billion into alternative protein stocks so far in 2020.

More companies are lining up to launch plant-based ice creams and meatless meats

Even before the global pandemic, the demand for vegan or plant-based food was soaring, according to a new article in The Guardian, and the pace is expected to continue long after the lockdown is lifted. The number of companies that are pushing fast forward on their plans to introduce vegan and plant-based food options is expected to climb in the coming months.

Looking at the latest figures for how many companies applied for new trademarks last year versus the prior period, 107 trademarks were approved for dairy-free ice cream,  meat-free burgers, and more, which was an increase of 128% when compared to the 47 trademarks applied for in 2018. Consumer demand for vegan alternatives continued to soar, the Guardian concludes.

During the pandemic buying period, stores in the US and the UK have reported strong sales of vegan and plant-based options, as meat shortages threatened supply chains in the US and abroad; sales of meatless meat rose 35 percent in the US, outpacing the traditional foods, as Americans sought to eat healthier and avoid foods that contribute to inflammation. Studies continue to be published weekly that show a diet of plant-based foods lowers inflammation, reduces the lifetime risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and hormone-sensitive cancers like breast and prostate.

Meanwhile, a diet higher in saturated fat and animal protein appears to drive up the risk of those chronic diseases and lead to premature death, according to the latest review studies. Americans are getting the memo: Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, back in January Americans said they wanted to add more plant-based foods to their diet, and during the pandemic, more people surveyed said they were adding plant-based foods to their plates. The motivations are multi-faceted and include health, climate change and animal wellfare.  Among younger consumers, the influential Gen Z'ers born between 1995 and 2010, 65 percent say they want a more "plant-forward" diet, while 79% choose to go meatless once or twice a week. Their biggest motivation is health, but environmental concerns are growing.

"The ongoing trend reflects people paying closer attention to their diet during the lockdown, increasingly adopting “flexitarian” diets – cutting down on meat and dairy while eating more plant-based foods," The Guardian writes.

International food conglomerate Unilever has trademarked new vegan ice cream for its Ben and Jerrys and Magnum ice cream brands, while Sainsbury’s retail chain is launching a “shroomdog”,  of their own in response to the robust growth in plant-based products: “We expect to see this area continue to grow as we emerge out of lockdown,” Rosie Bambaji, plant-based buyer at Sainsbury’s told the paper.


Another major UK food retailer, Tesco, has launched more than 30 plant-based products across its Wicked Kitchen and Plant Chef ranges this summer, including BBQ, Asian-inspired, and at-home meal kits. Plant-based barbecue options have proved popular during the hot weather, the company reports.

More From The Beet