Two-thirds of Americans now admit to buying meat alternatives, according to consumer research conducted by Innova Market Insights, The Netherlands. While only 22% purchase from the category on rare occasions, as many as 10% say that they always buy meat alternatives, while a further 36% claim to do so often or sometimes.

The percentage of occasional meat purchasers represents the flexitarians who are choosing to cut down on their meat intake in favor of a healthier lifestyle. Ethical and environmental concerns are also increasingly influential in this decision-making process, and this adds a new consideration to the marketing of meat alternatives.

“Meat substitutes should now carry the right messages for both healthful and mindful customers, with plant-based diets emerging as the epitome of guilt-free eating,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation.

Almost three-quarters of new meat substitutes launched in the United States in 2018 carried vegan claims. But, in earlier research conducted in 2017, only 14% of meat alternatives purchasers named vegetarian/vegan positioning as a factor influencing their purchasing decision, with higher levels of interest in simpler claims related to naturally healthy formulation.