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Consumers More Focused on Health than Environment

Consumers are eating sustainably more for perceived health benefits rather than environmental considerations, a study by Tastewise found.

Health is the biggest driver for vegan and sustainable diets and 30% of social conversations about sustainability have to do with health, while 31% of conversations about vegan eating are also related to health. In conversations about both sustainability and veganism together, health concerns dominate with 50% being related to it.

The association between veganism and sustainability is even influencing the traditionally meat-heavy category of keto dieting. Vegan options are top-of-mind for 27% of sustainability-focused keto conversations, as some consumers look beyond animal products for items rich in fat and protein.

The 73% who are sticking to what they know are turning to sustainable meat options such as grass-fed beef, indicating opportunity for both more sustainable meat options and plant-based products suitable for keto diets.

Nevertheless, environmental concerns such as consuming local, recycling, and waste management are growing in discussions—indicating a rising awareness around the broader impacts of a sustainability-focused lifestyle.

According to the 2019 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC), 63% of consumers find it hard to know whether the food choices they make are environmentally sustainable. Among that group, 63% say environmental sustainability would have a greater influence on their choices if it were easier to know.

Environmental concerns are expected to continue to drive greater adoption of plant-based diets, although consumers can’t seem to agree on what that actually entails. About one-third of consumers say a plant-based diet is a vegan diet, while another 30% define it as a diet that emphasizes minimally processed foods originating from plants, with limited consumption of animal meat, eggs, and dairy.

Twenty percent believe it to be a vegetarian diet that avoids animal meat, while 8% say it is a diet that consists in getting as many fruits and vegetables as possible, with no limit on consuming animal meat, eggs, and dairy.

Meanwhile, IFIC predicts that in 2020, fad diets and get-thin-quick regimens will lose popularity and will be replaced by more holistic concepts. The “un-diet” lifestyle will focus less on food restrictions and more on natural cues our body gives us, like when we are full, and on healthier relationships with food overall, according to the organization.