Vegetarians and vegans, you’ve got company: A new report shows that meat-eaters are also chowing down on mock meats, tofu, tempeh, and seitan. In fact, according to Mintel market research group, more than one-third of Americans are now eating these healthy meat-free foods and only a fraction of them identify themselves as vegetarians or vegans.
Some meat-eaters are reportedly eating mock meats in place of animal flesh, and others are eating them alongside meat offerings. You may be thinking that with so many great-tasting vegan options available, there’s no reason for anyone to eat animal flesh at all—ever. And you’re right. But any time someone eats mock meats instead of animal flesh, it’s a huge step in the right direction! Not only does it show that more and more people are interested in eating healthier, conserving resources, and stopping factory farming, it also shows that mock meats are yummy and have a broad appeal.
Restaurants and food companies are capitalizing on this, too. About the same time that Tropical Smoothie Café began offering Beyond Meat, Chipotle Mexican Grill began selling vegan Sofritas—shredded, organic tofu braised with chipotle chiles and roasted poblanos and served in burritos, tacos, or bowls. Sofritas are currently available only in the Pacific Northwest, but if they continue to sell well, they may eventually be sold at all 1,450 Chipotle restaurants. So get to Chipotle and eat, you West Coast vegans!
Every day, it seems that more and more companies are trying to attract vegan and health-conscious customers. TCBY, for example, recently unveiled a Silk Chocolate Almond frozen yogurt option. It’s creamy and delicious, and while TCBY hasn’t yet decided if the product will be available after the original 12-week run—or if additional flavors will be created—it’s hailing the nondairy frozen dessert as a success.
If you need more proof that vegan foods are becoming increasingly popular, take a quick trip to Whole Foods. It sells Beyond Meat and other meat-free foods by Gardein, Boca, Turtle Island Foods, Yves, and other vegan-friendly companies as well as tofu, tempeh, and other whole soy foods. The store is almost always jam-packed—with people and new vegan foods.
If people you know have begun eating more faux meat, applaud their efforts and urge them to try even more meat-free meals. Perhaps someday, they will even be willing to take PETA‘s pledge to be vegan for 30 days.