People are obsessed with getting an ample amount of protein. From a young age, it’s drilled into our minds that getting enough protein is one of the cornerstones of a healthy, balanced diet. While protein is most certainly an important part of our nutrition, many times people are consuming way too much protein. In fact, research shows that those that consume animal protein in every meal can end up consuming five times more animal protein than the daily requirement. Additionally, people are not consuming the ideal type of protein. Although most people consider red meat “power food,” and worry how vegetarians and vegans will fare without it, recent research has shown that eating too much meat actually increases the risk of cancer.

Thankfully, with more research emerging about meat, we are seeing people venture out of their dietary comfort zone in search of cleaner proteins they can feel good about eating. After noticing this high demand for protein ranging from waffles to insects, The Natural Marketing Institute and Informa decided to collaborate on a study that analyzed the six areas of protein, probiotics, digestive health, weight management, omega-3 fatty acids, and sports nutrition/performance. They surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults and 92 ingredient suppliers and found that 38 percent of U.S. adults said they seek to add more protein to their diets. More importantly, among those people, 35 percent said they consume products with plant-based protein, and of those 57 percent said they were consuming more plant-based protein products this year as compared to last year!

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“The demand for protein is high in the developed world (an average of 103g/person/day is consumed today), and with rising incomes it is also growing rapidly in the developing world. Currently, this demand is being met by increasing the production of meat and other animal products, which is expected to double by the year 2050,” said Nil Zacharias, Co-Founder of One Green Planet. “The good news is because of concerns ranging from sustainability to health, including the desire to avoid allergens like dairy, soy, eggs and gluten, as well as saturated fat and cholesterol, consumers are looking for cleaner, more sustainable protein options from plant-based sources.”

The reality is our current food system centered around animal protein is broken. We’re already using over 50 percent of the world’s arable land to graze livestock and grow feed, and freshwater resources are dwindling. Despite the enormous amount of inputs going in to produce animal proteins, around 850 million people still suffer from hunger worldwide. As the population grows, we won’t be able to sustain this sort of food system – but thankfully, as these trends show, the future of food, centered around sustainable, vegan food is on the rise – and all signs point to it being here to stay!

Image source: Spicy Buffalo Quinoa Burgers