Exciting Developments in the Vegan Food Market

November 2, 2023 - Lou Farrell

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People working in the vegan food market continually push the boundaries of what the public thought was possible. Adhering to a vegan diet doesn’t mean people must mostly eat salads or that they’ll have trouble finding menu options when dining out. Things are changing in hopeful and positive ways. Here are some of the emerging trends.

More People Open to Trying Plant-Based Foods

It wasn’t so long ago that individuals who admitted to eating plant-based foods might have gotten strange looks or been the subject of jokes. However, due to factors such as the mounting evidence that eating less meat is good for the planet and the wider availability of plant-based options in supermarkets, more people are at least open to adding them to their diets. 

For example, one 2023 study of American adults found 68% had experimented with plant-based meats and dairy alternatives. Another valuable takeaway was that 31% of respondents had swapped products out in favor of plant-based options for an average of eight meals each week. 

That second finding emphasizes that people don’t need to plan on cutting out all the meat and dairy products they normally consume. They can gradually begin eating more products that are becoming popular in the vegan food market, then see if they want to fully commit to that diet. 

Vegan Diets Are Less Expensive

With living costs rising in many worldwide markets, many people are eager to see how they could reduce their grocery bills. Could venturing into the vegan food market to try new things help them do it? In many cases, yes. The key is to focus on whole foods rather than processed meat and dairy alternatives. However, even when people do have some processed foods in their vegan diets, they often find their food bills become lower.

A 2021 Oxford University study revealed that vegan and vegetarian diets were the least expensive options in high-income nations. More specifically, vegan diets caused a one-third reduction in food costs and were the most affordable. 

Then, in September 2023, a different study highlighted more good news for people trying to minimize their grocery bills with vegan diets. Researchers pinpointed the average dollar amounts vegan eaters could save with low-fat diets, finding their total food costs were $1.51 less per day, or 16% less than a control group. That adds up to hundreds of dollars of savings per year, which is substantial for anyone trying to keep costs down in a challenging economy. 

Popular Cruise Line Rolls Out More Vegan Options

The wide variety of food options and buffet-style dining options encourage many people to travel on cruise ships. However, vegans typically have fewer possibilities. That’s starting to change, at least on Carnival ships. The cruise company has introduced vegan menus on one of its ships. All of them will have these offerings by the end of 2023. 

Some of the new dishes include key lime velvet cake, grilled tofu steak and spaghetti carbonara. Ingredients such as vegan bacon, plant-based cheeses and vegan salmon show how the cruise company’s decision-makers have clearly kept their eyes on the vegan food market and new developments within it. 

More Farmers Looking at Vegan Options

Interest in the vegan food market isn’t just spreading among consumers. Agricultural professionals who have been in their industry for years and embraced traditional practices are exploring vegan options. One former cattle farmer has switched to growing cereals and will not use animal products to enrich his soil. Others have yet to make such big changes, but they understand it’s time to be open to additional options. 

However, such transitions aren’t easy. That’s why some groups are leading projects to help farmers move toward alternative protein sources and revenue streams. Some could be even more profitable than their former aims. 

Some farmers are still hesitant, though, as shown by the occasional pushback from those who want vegan meat products labeled as something other than “meat.” Something similar has happened in the dairy industry. For now, at least, regulators in the United States have insisted producers of these products can keep categorizing them as milk. 

Upcycled Products Enter the Vegan Food Market

People are increasingly curious about how they could use more recycled products in their lives. Some even have houses built from materials such as recycled glass and reused cork, believing this is a practical way to reduce their carbon footprints. 

Food waste reduction has become a hot topic, too, especially as people learn more about the associated emissions. Could companies prevent food waste by using it as a base material for vegan foods? At least one company is moving in that direction. 

Representatives from UPP (Upcycled Plant Power) have set their sights on broccoli parts that would otherwise get discarded for cosmetic reasons. Those ingredients are getting added to everything from plant-based sausages to smoothies. 

Elsewhere, researchers are testing whether processed root-vegetable byproducts could become useful parts of plant-based meat substitutes. One experiment involved combining the root-vegetable byproducts with soy protein. After going through a few more steps in the production process, the team realized that their attempts led to vegetable burgers that were juicer and had a higher fiber content. 

Vegan Fast Food Options Becoming More Widespread

People who eat vegan diets are just like anybody else in that they don’t always have time to cook. Executives from fast food restaurants are responding to the need, proving that people can still get quick fare without sacrificing their eating preferences. 

Taco Bell announced it would bring its vegan nacho cheese to all outlets in the United States. This is not the first time the chain has tested the dip, though. The cheese sauce debuted in a crunchwrap menu offering earlier in 2023. 

There’s also Mr. Charlie’s. Although this emerging fast food restaurant has a pioneering menu without meat, dairy or trans fats, it’s making headlines for another reason, too. The restaurant’s exterior looks suspiciously like another restaurant — McDonald’s. It has the yellow and red color scheme, a similar-looking font and a frowning face, which seems to be a take on the more famous brand’s Happy Meal. 

People can also find helpful lists of vegan options at some of the most popular chains. That’s particularly useful because many individuals don’t want to cause difficulties for staff members or anyone they’re with when eating out. Progress in the vegan food market is making it easy for consumers to go to many popular restaurants and order suitable options without hassles. 

Keep Watching the Vegan Food Market

The examples here are only a sampling of the impressive things happening in the world of vegan foods. Whether a person eats vegan all the time and has for most of their life or is considering making the change soon and gradually, there are plenty of possibilities to try. 

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Lou Farrell

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