Plant-Based Eating: Trend or Putting Down Roots?

Just reading the header above is something we might have never imagined happening. More than ever, consumers are embracing the idea of plant-based eating. It happened gradually—adding more fruits and vegetables to diets became a goal for many health-conscious consumers as did eating more protein largely because of protein’s role in developing a lean, healthy body. Consumers became aware that plant-based proteins were a way to, ahem, kill two birds with one stone: eat more protein and be healthy at the same time. Plant-based eating depends on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and tubers and while shunning animal-based proteins, dairy, eggs, and refined sugars. Not to be confused with veganism, plant-based eating centers around whole foods that are unprocessed or minimally processed.1 The question now is how influential has plant-based eating (PBE) become and has it taken root in consumers’ diets?

PBE By the Numbers

For some perspective, here is what we know about consumers, the industry, and plant-based eating.

  • 17% of U.S consumers aged 15-70 claim to eat a mostly plant-based diet2
  • 60% of U.S consumers are reducing their intake of meat-based items.3
  • 5% of US adults claim to follow a strict vegan diet while 4.6% of 2016 global new product introductions were vegan compared to 1.2% in 2011.4
  • 55% of consumers reducing animal proteins claim it’s a permanent change while 22% hope that it is5
  • New products with plant-based claims grew to 320 in 2016 from 94 in 2012, a 240% increase.6

Big YUM in PBE

Obviously, PBE is catching on with consumers and it also helps them to meet both their clean eating and health objectives at the same time. The industry is more than stepping up, bringing creative applications that taste great and are satiating. While plant-based ingredients like Pulses (edible seeds in the legume family) present formulation challenges with off-flavors, manufacturers are exploring the combo of infra-red heating and roasting to make these flavors more palatable.7 Here are some applications that have consumers munching on plants—and liking it.

JustScramble / JustMayo / JustCookieDough – the maker of JustMayo, the dairy free condiment, is launching JustScramble which is an egg patty comprised of yellow peas and designed for food service. Coming soon in three varieties including regular, Southwest, and spinach/mushroom. Look for JustCookieDough to soon please the sweet-toothed consumer.

Crunchmaster Protein Snack Crackers – Consumers crave a little crunch and Crunchmaster is there to meet the need. With 5 grams of plant protein in about 32 crackers, these brown rice and chickpea flour morsels bring the protein minus soy or whey.

Daiya – A whole company dedicated to dairy free cheese? You bet. While dairy drink alternatives are dominating the dairy free market, cheesemaker Daiya banked on consumers’ comfort with dairy alternatives to produce cheese that tastes as good as the real thing. In addition to slices, blocks, shreds and cream cheeses, Daiya created the first meat-free, dairy-free, gluten and soy-free pepperoni frozen pizza seriously good enough to meet late night cravings. Calling on pea protein and mushrooms, this pizza is more than enough to satisfy a late-night craving or two.

No Cow Bar – Born from the founder’s need for a dairy-free healthy protein bar, No Cow Bar helped launch a company, D’s Naturals. In addition to bars, D’s Naturals produces FluffButter (protein infused peanut butter in unique flavors like Gooey Bananas Foster and Cocoa Glazed Cinnamon Roll). The bars have dessert inspired flavors like Chocolate Banana Bread, Dark Raspberry Truffle, and Blueberry Cobbler.

There could be a point very soon when plant-based eating is the norm, not the exception. As you work on your own plant-based projects, Nikken is here to help. Our mushroom product portfolio would be a great start to bringing some plant-based YUM to your applications. We’d love to put down some roots with you.




  3. Ibid
  5. Ibid