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The Rise of the Flexitarian

​According to Mintel, volume sales on vegan and vegetarian foods for the period up to 2021 are forecast to rise at 9%. (Meat Free Foods, UK – May 2017). Well this certainly was not the case when popping out with the parents to a Sunday Lunch at their local pub, who dished up three different choices of meat based dishes and a single soggy mush that I was informed to be a nut roast (the only vegetarian option). Yes, I knew that I had gone home but did not realise that time had stood still there for the last 20 years.

Today there is no excuse for not dishing up an interesting and varied vegetarian or vegan option, with Quorn products being the leading brand in 2016/17 followed closely by flavoursome Cauldron Foods. Let’s not forget Linda McCartney, a personal hero who fed me through the dark difficult days of the early 90’s, and more recently their big NPD push of 2016.

So, what came first Market drivers or more consumer choice? The timelines seem to suggest that that the drivers are hip and trendy Social media aware young vegetarians and vegans, for example Instagram has 13m uses of #vegetarian , so last year, and 41m uses of #vegan (The Grocer 2017). Very different to the old days where you may have heard of another vegetarian in your network and vegans lived mostly in cities and hunted for vegetables in packs.

Instagram vegan 

Let’s not forget about the health aspect here, where butchers according to The Grocer 2017 are starting to become flexitarian and producing their own meat – free options. A local butcher close to my home produce both meat based and vegetarian home cooked styled ready meals that suit different members of the family, a win-win for both of us. Interestingly advertising on meat-free foods such as the major spender Quorn, hit consumers at the same time as the raise in awareness. Although, when we put this into perspective the Mintel report suggests that it is only 1% of the population that actually follow these diets.

As for me it was a lifestyle choice based on ethical considerations that, despite my young niece’s proclamation that she felt sorry for Aunty Sharon suffering from “being ill with vegetaria”, I do feel proud that I could make a personal choice when it was frowned upon to have funny ways that were not mainstream. Will I ever revert? Never! Not now that it has become so good.

Sharon Mayho - Systems Development Manager

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