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Survey by Sprouts Looks into New Year Eating Habits, Reveals Young Americans are Likely to Shift Away from Meat

Overhead photo of plant based food and produce

PHOENIX – January 18, 2021 – According to research commissioned by Sprouts Farmers Market and conducted by One Poll, nearly one in every two Americans consumes more plant-based meals than meat, with more than half (54%) of respondents ages 24 to 39 identifying as flexitarians.

A survey of 2,000 Americans looked into the new year eating habits and aims people have when it comes to eating healthy. Results found 47% of Americans describe themselves as flexitarians, with the dietary lifestyle proving more popular in younger crowds.

This shift towards more plant-based foods and meat alternatives isn’t just a trend, either. Forty-three percent of people believe being a flexitarian is a permanent lifestyle change, with more than half (58%) feeling like all their nutritional needs can be met with plant-based foods.

A further look into the long-term sustainability of being a flexitarian, nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents ages 24 to 39 believe their nutritional needs can be fully met with a plant-based diet, compared to those over the age of 56, who were less than half confident (30%).

Yet more than a third (36%) of people are completely unaware of what being a flexitarian means or what’s involved, even if they classify as one. When asked to explain or define what being a flexitarian means, several respondents admitted to either being aware of what’s involved but calling it something different or to being completely unaware until they took the survey.

The survey also found an average 63% of people say they’d be willing to swap meat for a plant-based alternative if it met certain criteria, including tasting the same (68%), costing the same (63%), having the same nutritional value (60%), having the same texture (63%) and because it’s more ethical (63%).

“The interest in plant-based foods and a flexitarian diet is evident,” said Sprouts Chief Executive Officer Jack Sinclair. “Shoppers are more engaged with their food than ever and are seeking innovative and alternative products to mix up the meals they prepare for themselves and their families.”

More than two-thirds of Americans (68%) like to mix up their diets every once and awhile. When asked how they like to mix up their diet more than half of them like to use new ingredients (57%) or ingredient alternatives (51%).

Likewise, 68 percent of Americans believe eating healthier can help give them a better understanding of the world. Meanwhile, 69% believe eating healthier can help give people a better understanding of their own bodies.

More than six in 10 (63%) Americans will eat plant-based meals to help themselves feel better.

Fifty-nine percent of people would try plant-based foods if they were easier to find at their local grocery store.

When asked what their motivation to eat healthier was, more than half (53%) of Americans willing to give up certain foods said they want to strengthen their immune system, even before weight concerns. For 44% of them, it was to avoid getting sick. Twelve percent said they would eat healthier because it’s better for the environment.

“Plant-based product sales grew exponentially last year, indicating consumers are craving innovative items to try at home,” said Sinclair. “We believe consumers will remain focused on incorporating healthy foods into their lifestyles to support immunity and overall wellbeing in 2021. This includes introducing consumers to things they never considered before, like plant-based foods and meat alternatives.”


  1. I don’t think it tastes the same – 47%
  2. I don’t think it has the same texture/mouthfeel – 46%
  3. I think it costs too much – 42%
  4. I think it’s over-hyped – 38%
  5. I think it’s just a fad/trend – 37%
  6. I think it’s too hard to find – 35%
  7. I think it’s over-processed – 26%
  8. I think it’s not any healthier than what I’ve been eating – 18%

WHAT IS MOTIVATING PEOPLE TO EAT HEALTHIER IN 2021?                                               

  1. I want to strengthen my immune system – 53%
  2. I want to avoid getting sick – 44%
  3. I want to optimize my body for fitness – 42%
  4. I want to lose weight – 42%
  5. I’ve eaten way too much junk food during the holidays – 41%
  6. It’s part of my New Year resolution – 36%
  7. My spouse/partner wants to lose weight together – 32%
  8. I want to try something new – 26%
  9. I want my body to perform tasks better – 24%
  10. I want to feel up-to-date – 19%
  11. I want to eat more sustainably for the planet – 12%

Click to view an infographic and video of the survey findings.