The holiday season brings together friends and families to celebrate timeworn traditions, many of which have been created at the dinner table. In recent years, these traditions are getting revamped, as more consumers than ever care about how their purchases –– especially concerning food –– impact the environment and their health. A new report from UK retailer Waitrose shows that retailers should prepare for the "biggest vegan Christmas ever" this year.

Upscale supermarket Waitrose just published search term data that reveals how consumers are gearing up for a plant-based holiday season this year. The report showed that the term "vegan Christmas food" surged 188 percent since last year. With nearly 55 percent of shoppers looking for the most sustainable options, more consumers aim to cut their carbon footprint this holiday, which on average costs an additional 1,400 pounds of carbon emissions per person.

Waitrose also revealed the most popular food items or recipes among customers. The search term data showed that "vegan roast potatoes" rose 166 percent and "vegan panettone," a dairy-free version of an Italian sweet bread, spiked 110 percent. For recipes, the company found that consumers searched for "vegan nut Wellington" 10 times more since last month, and 94 percent more consumers searched for vegan Yorkshire pudding recipes.

Read More: Vegan Wellington Recipe

The retail giant's custom-order food service also showed a 49 percent rise in vegan and vegetarian food orders. More than ever, consumer interests are leaning towards more sustainable plant-based options.

“I love being able to make delicious meat-free swaps very accessible for our customers and I wanted Christmas to be no different,” Simona Cohen-Vida-Welsh, vegan product developer at Waitrose, said. “I am delighted we are now able to provide a vegan option for every course and with vegan and vegetarian Waitrose Entertaining orders up 49 percent compared to last year, I have no doubt that this category will continue to go from strength to strength.”

Plant-Based Centerpieces at Christmas Dinner

Last year, nearly three-quarters of millennials, 71 percent, planned to host a plant-based Christmas dinner, according to a poll by Eat Just. Younger generations are increasingly interested in featuring plant-based iterations of traditional holiday meals such as roasts, turkey, and gravy, among others.

Grocery giant Ocado revealed that searchers for "Christmas vegan" have more than tripled, rising by 389 percent, and 29 percent more shoppers are planning a plant-based centerpiece this year.

“Gone are the days of nut roast and veg being the only solution, as the options now available on Ocado are at an all-time high." Beth Vickerman, Vegan and Continental Deli Buyer at Ocado Retail, told Vegan Food & Living“We’re also seeing the serving size of vegan festive centerpieces increase, with more options that feed three to four people as opposed to single servings, as families and friends try plant-based together.”

Vegan Food Near Me

This plant-based holiday season reflects a general upswing in plant-based interest happening worldwide. In January, Google released its "Year in Search" report for 2021, revealing that "vegan food near me" searches increased 5,000 percent over the year. Google's findings showed that search terms including “is climate change caused by humans” and “how does eating less meat help climate change” ranked as breakout searches last October.

Typically, Americans eat 46 million turkeys during Thanksgiving, but this year, Crestline found that one in four Americans are willing to try at least one vegan alternative this holiday season. With New Year's and Christmas nearing, consumers are gearing up to finish off the year with a sustainable holiday season.

For more plant-based happenings, check out The Beet's News articles

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