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How pandemic is making consumers choose plant-based foods

As we round the corner during a pandemic, a few lasting truths appear to be emerging: One is that we need to adopt better hygiene, since frequent hand-washing and wearing masks can stop the spread of the virus. 
 
The other is that we need to eat better, and if the industry forecasters are correct, consumers are vastly embracing more plant-based foods and leaving animal products out of their carts, as awareness about where our food comes from has grown. People around the world are choosing healthier food, as well as that which won’t impact the planet, and they care more about the way their food is processed.
 
This new plant-based food trend is driven by flexitarians more than a strictly vegan approach since more people are adding plants to their plate than swearing off all animal products. But sales of plant-based foods have outpaced other categories by more than five to one and sales of meatless meat rose 35
percent since the pandemic buying spree began.
 
If there is a small silver lining to this lasting health crisis, it's that we are taking better care of our health by eating fewer animal products and choosing more plant-based options. Since the start of the pandemic, 23 percent people are consuming more plant-based foods, and the sales of plant-based meats is expected to top $1 billion for the first time ever this year, according to the Good Food Institute which reports on trends of plant-based eating. 
 
Poultry and Meat sales take a beating
 
Meanwhile, sales of meat and poultry are down for the first time in six years. That kind of consumer awareness could just lead to longer life spans in this country, as a shift toward a more plant-based diet is known to be healthier, linked to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity (and related diseases), hypertension, and cancer. A plant-based diet has also been shown to be helpful in losing unwanted weight.
 
Nutritionists have seen a shift in awareness among consumers about where their food comes from, and a desire to eat cleaner, leaner and have less impact on the environment with the choices they make. “There has been a big shift, especially since the pandemic, in how people are eating,: said a nutritionist.  
 
More people now “have the bandwidth” to pay attention to where their food originates, or is processed, and how that affects their health and the planet. This was due in large part to the myriad stories about thousands of meat plant workers who in May and June were getting sick from COVID-19 that forced the closure of meat plants. Consumers reacted by turning away from animal products to try plant-based meats instead.
 
Curiosity on source of food increases
 
This has been a pivotal moment and a chance for people to start to think about where their food is coming from. That might only go as far as: I wonder who is touching my food? and Is it going to make me sick? and Could I get coronavirus from my food?
 
Different people and different groups are coming at it from different angles. To say people are thinking about farms and animals is a stretch, so it’s not about that necessarily. But anything that gets people thinking about food and where it comes is a positive thing.
 
Raising Awareness for Health and Planet
 
During the pandemic, celebrities have expressed the importance of plant-based eating for the sake of human health and the planet–as well as to put an end to animal cruelty.
 
It's interesting that now, months after the pandemic first hit, there is definitely a higher level of awareness about what is happening on the planet and how our diets connect to that. 
So, the growth is not about pure veganism as a way of life, but about adding plant-based foods for health and the planet.
This may not be popular in the vegan community, but more consumers want to eat more plant-based foods without swearing off all meat and dairy
 
Everything from genetics to digestion to food preference comes to play. Individuals walk in with their own preconceived ideas of what they want or need to eat, and there is nuance to helping them give up foods they are used to eating. Maybe some people need one thing or another [to start]. Then, they learn about how plant-based eating is healthier and they are ready to move more in that direction. 

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