Question: What do you call someone who favors plant-based foods, but is not a vegan or a vegetarian?
Answer: You refer to them as flexitarian because they like to have the flexibility of occasionally adding a little animal protein into their meals as they see fit.
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At the same time, however, it seems that those who call themselves flexitarians are popping up everywhere. Indeed, more than half of young Americans—aged 24 through 39—describe themselves as flexitarian, according to a new survey of 2,000 Americans by OnePoll for Sprouts Farmers Market.
The term was introduced in 2008 in the book “The Flexitarian Diet” by Dawn Jackson Blatner, who explained that dairy and meat are part of the diet, although they are consumed in moderation. The term is only now being used more frequently to describe those who follow such a diet.
By all accounts the flexitarians—sometimes called meat reducers—are increasingly moving away from the real thing and leaning more and more toward faux dairy and meat alternatives, even though they are not quite there yet. Some might never become completely vegan or vegetarian.
The trend is revealed in the poll:
A little more than six out of 10 of those polled said they would change meat for an alternative that was plant-based if it tasted the same, if the alternative had the same value in nutrition, and if it were “more ethical.”
Almost half of those questioned in the survey saw their move toward plant-based alternatives as permanent.
A big help in the flexitarians’ move away from animal proteins is that plant-based options are increasingly available at popular mainstream chains such as Burger King, Starbucks, KFC, and even McDonalds where the McPlant burger is undergoing a trial run.
Now makers of plant-based foods are introducing more and more products aimed at enticing flexitarians even further away from animal-based proteins.
Shoppers are more involved with their food choices than ever, says Jack Sinclair, CEO of Sprouts Farmers Market. They are looking for alternative and innovative products to mix up the meals they prepare for their families and themselves.
He believes that consumers will continue to be focused on including healthy foods in their daily lifestyles. In this way they will support their overall wellbeing and immunity in the future. Included in their involvement with new foods is that they are being introduced to an increasing variety of meat alternatives and plant-based foods.
Sales of plant-based foods in 2021 grew exponentially, Sinclalr adds. That increase shows that consumers are craving items in the plant-based category that are innovative and that they can try at home.
The latest plant-based food range targeting flexitarians is called Propasta, made by Nepra Foods. The new line —which was introduced at the Natural Foods Expo in Anaheim, California, in March 2022—consists of what the company calls heat-and-eat plant-based meals. Nutritious and allergen-free, the frozen foods are aimed at flexitarians who want to cut back on their consumption of products that are animal-based, says David Wood, co-founder and CEO of Nepra Foods.
Nepra’s team of chefs and food scientists, led by Chadwick White, co-founder of Nepra, worked hard over the past year to develop formulations and recipes that are unmatched in the industry, Wood adds.
Propasta is available as a frozen food with animal-free meats that taste great and are nutritious for everyone, he says.
Among the foods are spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni and cheese, and ricotta ravioli with marinara sauce. They are made from proprietary formulas using hemp hearts, the company says. They provide a source of protein that is rich in health fats. In addition they are non-GMO, easy to digest, and free from the top eight food allergies from which many people suffer.
Propasta is aimed at taking advantage of a basic shift in consumer demand for plant-based options that allow people to cut back on their consumption of animal-based products without losing texture, taste, or nutrition, the company says.
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