As consumers become more concerned with the climate crisis and animal cruelty, plant-based eating continues to grow quickly across the global food market. The 2020 State of the Industry Report: Plant-Based Meat, Eggs, and Dairy from the Good Food Insitute found that nearly 32 percent of people identified as “mostly vegetarian” following a Mattson survey from last June. The report highlights the drastic shift towards plant-based consumerism as people recognize environmental and individual risks of animal-based products.

With consumers shifting towards plant-based diets, companies and countries worldwide have begun redesigning regulations and product lines to accommodate the rising plant-based consumer demand. The report also details that nearly 60 percent of consumers believed that plant-based diets are a necessary step to address the climate crisis and environmental damages.

“With an increased global focus on reaching net-zero emissions, the shift to climate-friendly, sustainable protein production presents significant sales and investment opportunities,” the GFI report reads. “Companies and investors interested in plant-based innovation recognize its transformative potential to achieve a carbon-neutral food system, and they are positioning themselves to lead this transition.”

Overall, the report found that that “more than 80 percent of U.S. consumers believe that the recent shift toward plant-based diets is a significant and long-lasting change.” The acceptance of plant-based eating worldwide lends companies to continue developing alternatives to animal-based products across all foot categories, specifically within the protein sector.

Younger generations continue to become more receptive to plant-based alternatives, demanding that the animal agricultural industry scale back to prevent the oncoming climate crisis. The GFI report found that the number of consumers that decided to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets increased from 31 percent in 2018 to 48 percent in 2020. The data suggest that environmental and sustainability motivators are a driving factor in the sharp rise of plant-based diets.

“In 2021, we will continue to see incredible innovation in virtually every category of plant-based foods,” the CEO at the Plant-Based Food Association Rachel Dreskin said. “Innovation will be fueled by increasing investor interest and appetite from consumers, particularly millennials and Gen Zers, who are driving this growth. Retailers, manufacturers, and foodservice companies will continue to create proactive strategies to expand plant-based offerings, and we will see increased communication around them in efforts to compete and capture this critical segment of the market.”

The adoption of plant-based diets can be seen across the market with investments in plant-based companies growing significantly. Dairy-free oat milk company Oatly recently announced its $10 billion initial public offerings. Plant-based protein companies including Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are also experiencing substantial endorsements and investments leading to worldwide product expansions. Impossible Foods is working towards making plant-based alternatives more affordable for consumers by enacting a 20 percent price cut for vegan meat products in US retail.

“Animal agriculture is the overwhelming driver of our planet’s late-stage extinction crisis,” Chief Communication Officer at Impossible Foods Rachel Konrad said in the report. “Pastureland, hunting, fishing, and other forms of animal exploitation have caused wildlife populations to collapse by about 70 percent since 1970; our addiction to animal-derived products is disintegrating the web of life itself. The good news: More and more people are sounding the alarm, demanding that we “rewild” nearly half the Earth now dedicated to livestock.”


More From The Beet