Americans eat 46 million turkeys each Thanksgiving, but this year, some families might not be interested in celebrating the holiday with a turkey dinner. Or any meat for that matter. New research reveals that one in four Americans are willing to try at least one vegan alternative this holiday season, according to data collected by Crestline.

The survey collected data from 2,000 Americans to understand how changing prices, growing concerns about sustainability, and increased interest in plant-based foods have changed the country's mind about traditionally meat-heavy holiday dinners. The survey found that the vegan alternatives that American consumers were most likely to try are turkey (45 percent), ham (38 percent), and roast beef (36 percent). About a third of respondents claimed they would be willing to try vegan prime rib this year.

America's interest in plant-based foods differs from state to state. Crestline examined where shoppers could most easily purchase vegan turkey alternatives. The data showed that shoppers were most likely to get a plant-based turkey in Washington (62 percent), Maine (61 percent), Michigan (57 percent), and Nebraska (57 percent).

A Plant-Based Thanksgiving Can Save Money

The research also found that 69 percent of Americans intend to budget for an affordable holiday meal due to higher food costs and general inflation. With growing supply chain issues, meat and dairy products continue to increase in price whereas plant-based alternatives have gradually become more affordable as production capabilities continue to increase. One study found that price parity between conventional products and plant-based alternatives could occur as soon as 2023. 

Grocery prices are approximately 11 percent more expensive than they were at this time last year, motivating American consumers to look for more affordable options. This August, one survey found that about 28 percent of citizens in the United Kingdom were actively eating less meat to save money. Grocery costs for vegans are an estimated 40 percent lower than the cost of meat eaters, so this holiday season, Americans interested in vegan meat options may want to celebrate thanksgiving without the turkey.

The Carbon Footprint of Your Thanksgiving Dinner

About 87.5 percent of Gen-Z are worried about the environment, motivating younger Americans to shift away from traditionally meat-heavy meals, especially for the holiday season. Last year, Brightly released a report detailing the carbon footprint of a single Thanksgiving dinner, using a 12-person table as its metric. The report shows that by cutting out the turkey, Americans could slash 64 pounds of the total average of 103 pounds of CO2 emissions typically associated with Thanksgiving dinner.

"No one is expected to forgo their favorite holiday dishes in order to reduce their carbon footprint, but we can all take small steps in order to make it a more planet-friendly feast,” Liza Moiseeva, co-founder and CMO of Brightly, said at the time. “We recommend making vegetable stuffing instead of pork stuffing, using non-dairy swaps in some of your recipes, and cooking the meal all at once. It's common to cook dishes ahead of time to reheat later, but that increases the carbon emissions associated with cooking."

To start planning your plant-based holiday, visit our Guide to a Vegan Thanksgiving.

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