With Canadians eating less meat, plant-based foods are on the rise

By Sania Ali/RSJ

According to Nielsen data, 14 per cent of Canadian consumers are actively trying to eat less meat, pushing Canadian food businesses to invest in more plant-based alternatives.

Plant based burger
A&W’s plant-based Beyond Meat burger. (Courtesy of A&W)

With an industry worth more than $3 billion, Canadians are able to see more plant-based foods when shopping or eating out as businesses began to adapt to consumer preferences. 

A leading competitor in the North American plant-based protein space

Maple Leaf Foods Inc., one of Canada’s largest meat processors, has transferred a variety of its products to cater to high consumer demands for plant-based foods in North America. The company is committed to being a leading competitor in the North American plant-based protein space.

​​“Canadians are consuming less meat, and we predict that trend to continue,” Carman Allison, vice-president of consumer insights at Nielsen, said in Financial Post.

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. isn’t the only company dedicated to catering to the ever-growing plant-based food market. After A&W’s success after launching their Beyond Meat burger in 2019, many other companies have followed suit.

McDonald’s, Starbucks, Wendy’s, Burger King, and KFC have all started incorporating plant-based alternatives into their menu to cater to the growing plant-based consumer audience. 

As more Canadians switch to vegan nutrition, more restaurants add plant-based options to their menus. (Apurva Bhat/RSJ)

According to a recent survey, Angus Reid Forum online poll, 77 per cent of Canadian consumers understand the negative environmental impact of eating red meat, and 74 per cent of Canadian consumers believe it is their responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint.

Despite the large belief, polls show that only 34 per cent have actually reduced their meat consumption. As the plant-based industry continues to grow, many consumers are still hesitant to make the switch. 58 per cent of consumers are concerned about the level of processing in meat-free products and the survey revealed that 48 per cent of consumers would consider a more flexitarian lifestyle if they understood the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. 

Must try plant-based food restaurants in Toronto

Plant-based restaurants in Toronto. Story Map introducing different options. (Zoie Karagiannis/RSJ)

Although not all Canadians agree on a plant-based diet, many Canadians do agree that food choices will be different in the future, 77 per cent of Canadian consumers do agree that the younger generation will eat less meat than the generations before them. 

November 7, 2021

About Author

Viktoriia Viktoriia is a second-year Ryerson University student in the Bachelor of Journalism program.