Grocery aisles often feel like a walk down the rabbit hole, with tempting “eat me”, “drink me” and “pick me” peeking from all corners. We've got a lot more on our plate, but is the variety of options a blessing or a farce if the differences are… rather negligible?
The average shopping basket contents have undergone some meaningful changes in the span of the last 10 years and wholemeal, unprocessed, plant-based foods are getting increasingly more popular - and accessible - than ever before. Competing for the customers' attention and loyalty, the “pick-me market” swiftly responds to the consumer demands: the number of healthier and planet-friendly alternatives in European supermarkets rose dramatically, and it keeps accelerating each year. There's not only more options to fit all food preferences like vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or dairy-free: we are now often delighted to find out we have options within that category instead of being stuck with the one restaurant meal that happens to suit us our needs.
So what is the general trend? If we were to compare the numbers from the latest studies with those a decade ago, there's a striking difference. In 2012, we would be talking about the aggregate number of less than 20% of vegans, vegetarians and those who for the most part follow a plant-based diet. In 2021 the number has practically tripled. Between 2016 and 2021, the number of vegans in particular has doubled, with 12% of millennials identifying as vegan or vegetarian and a whooping 54% of polled Gen Z mostly reaching for plant-based alternatives.
What stands behind and out among these numbers is a twofold development. Firstly, there's a promising tendency among youth and millennials to be mindful of their carts for the sake of themselves and the environment. Secondly, the path acquiring popularity at the quickest rate is “flexitarianism”. With around half the European population trying to make conscious food choices, flexitarians make up the largest group with an average of 23% in selected European countries.
No, it's not about flexing food on Instagram! As much as we love a good tease about posting it on social media all the time, the aesthetic appeal of buddha-, nourish- and fruit-bowls is hardly a sufficient argument for converting people to diverse, nutritious meals. Even though the focus lies on wholemeal, fibre-rich products and plant-based protein, cutting out meat, fish or dairy completely is not required for being a flexitarian. In the jungle of supermarket aisles, flexitarianism echoes “awareness” and “moderation” on a path where the speed of your steps is less important than the direction you're taking. According to the recent polls, concern for the environment, well-being of animals and health top the reasons for making changes to one's nutrition in favour of a somewhat more plant-based approach.
The trend is less radical and people do not abandon these values altogether if unwilling to commit to following the rules religiously. There's joy and courage in that, for every day is a conscious choice. At the end of the day, all the baby steps add up and make a huge impact. So stay “curiouser and curiouser” and keep an open mind: flexibility is the ultimate flex!
P.S.: Speaking of the “adaptable” root… Check out our healthy snack alternative - AHARAbar filled with adaptogens and vitamins in 3 flavours!