The research revealed that while only 7% of US consumers identified themselves as vegetarian, 36% said that they used meat alternatives such as tofu, tempeh and seitan. Of these, just under a half said they were using these products instead of real meat, while 16% said they were serving the products alongside meat.
Mintel said that health was the key driver behind the use of meat alternatives, with one-third of consumers stating they were using these products because they were healthy. More than half of users (51%) said they believed meat alternatives were healthier than real meat.
Other reasons given for using meat alternatives included trying to reduce meat consumption (31%) and enjoying the taste of meat alternatives (31%).
Beth Bloom, food and drink analyst at Mintel, said: “This data suggests that participation in the alternative meat category stretches far beyond necessity, and creates an opportunity for future growth, based on the products’ ability to meet general consumer food interests, such as health, price, variety and convenience.
“The bottom line is that vegetarians and vegans aren’t the only people eating ‘fake’ meat; meat-eaters are also exploring this new-found protein superpower.”
Most of those who said they did not eat meat alternatives said they preferred real meat (67%), while 34% said they didn’t like the taste of meat alternatives, and 20% said they didn’t like the texture of these products.