Step aside, paleo, there’s a new dietary trend that has taken American taste buds by storm.
While it may seem exhausting to keep up with the new superfood of the week, consumer obsessions with organic produce, juice cleanses, and paleo and clean eating diets illuminate a shift in eating habits that prioritizes health, but not at the expense of flavor.
Although the American obsession with meat has not subsided, 38% of people, roughly 120 million, eat a flexitarian diet, and that number is only growing.
So, what is a flexitarian? What do they eat? Here is a quick list of everything you need to know as a restauranteur about this growing trend in consumer eating.
What is a “flexitarian”?
In 2012, the term became official when it made it into the Webster-Merriam dictionary. They define a flexitarian as “one whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish”. Basically, a flexible vegetarian, hence flexitarian.
So, what do flexitarians eat?
Everything! But mostly plants. Being flexitarian isn’t necessarily restrictive, it just means that consumers are making a conscious effort to eat less meat, but not cut it out entirely. This trend is very much in-line with the habits of socially and environmentally-conscious millennials. Many flexitarians share the same concerns that vegetarians have, but are not fully flexitarian for whatever reason.
Some flexitarians only eat one meat-centric meal a week, a month, or a year; focusing on vegetarian meals the rest of the time.
How to Market to Conscious Consumers
Marketing to your flexitarian can be a bit tricky, but ultimately very rewarding for both you and your customer.
Studies have shown that consumers are off-put by items labeled “vegan” or “vegetarian”. The misconception here is that those items lack flavor and depth. Language that focuses on describing the flavor rather than the health factors test better with consumers. This is consistent with the consumer habit of wanting healthy options that still leave their palates satisfied.
Overall, it doesn’t appear that this trend is going away anytime soon. In fact, based on numbers alone, this seems like a shift in eating habits that will likely persist.
How to Tap into the Trend
- Feature non-meat, protein-rich ingredients
- BJ’s currently offers a side called the Creamy Couscous Mac and Cheese. Tap into this trend by making classic dishes new by incorporating protein-rich ingredients such as couscous, nuts, quinoa, beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
- Use meat as a side
- Unlike omnivores, flexitarians use meat as a side or spice versus an entrée. Feature vegetable and grain-based dishes with meat as a side or flavoring, instead of as the main attraction. (Bonus: flexitarian meals mean lower food costs!)
- Focus on flavor
- Serving up a plain dish of steamed broccoli no longer fits the bill. Use herbs and spices to make veggie dishes and sides more interesting while appealing to people who are cutting back on meat.
Don’t miss out on what is quickly becoming a larger part of the market. From experience, it is getting tougher to hold group events at restaurants that leave healthy eaters out. How friendly is your restaurant to healthy eaters and where are you planning to do better?Find Out About the Latest Dietary Trend That's Sweeping America Click To Tweet