In a Nielsen Homespun survey conducted last year, more than one-third (39 percent) of Americans indicated that they are actively trying to consume more plant-based foods. And in coming years, American consumers are expected to become even more interested in plant-based options.

As Nielsen reported, the growing trend of U.S. consumers incorporating more plant-based foods into their diets presents a “notable opportunity for brands and retailers looking for ways to capitalize on specific needs and desires among consumers opting for plant-based food and beverage options, particularly in cases where no or few options currently exist.”

Interestingly, the research done by Nielsen revealed that many consumers aren’t reaching for conventional plant-based foods like granola, tofu, and brown rice; in fact, sales of such items were down 1.3 percent as of April.

So what kinds of plant-based options are shoppers looking for, then? Exciting, innovative ones! From noodles made out of veggies to cheese made from plant ingredients rather than animal ones, fresh, inventive plant-based options are seeing the most dramatic rise in popularity.

Many brands are already catching on and giving the people what they want. As more consumers have expressed an interest in vegan cheese, companies such as Miyoko’s, Field Roast, Follow Your Heart, and more have stepped up their game to make this plant-based product, once a far cry from traditional dairy cheese, just as melty and delicious as the real thing.

Then, there are meat alternatives. According to the Nielsen report, sales of plant-based burgers in the U.S. have recently increased by double-digits. And it’s not just strict vegetarians and vegans who are driving the heightened demand for meatless meat! Around 70 percent of shoppers who buy the Beyond Burger, a plant-based burger which can be found in the fresh prepared meat section of the grocery store, are meat eaters, the alternative burger maker’s Executive Chairman Seth Goldman reportedly said.

According to Nielsen, alternative-protein burgers will continue to be a very popular and important meat substitute as more and more consumers discover that eating plant-based is both healthy and delicious and up their consumption of these foods.

Considering the amazing positive impact we can have on the environment, our own health, and the welfare of animals by choosing plant-based alternatives, this study is incredibly encouraging! If you aren’t already in the know about the many positive impacts switching to a plant-based diet can have on your body and our planet, check out the Eat for the Planet book!

Image Source: Flickr