plate of veggies on a serving dish

Global Vegan Trends During COVID-19

From eating more fresh fruits and vegetables to exploring plant-based meats, the rise in vegan eating is one of the COVID-19 food trends that may have staying power. Learn how the trend in vegan eating is influencing consumer food choices and what manufacturers need to know to meet these needs.

COVID-19 Food Trends

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, consumer food purchasing and consumption patterns have shifted, often in dramatic ways. We’ve seen consumers stocking up on nonperishables, grocery shopping less frequently and at fewer stores, and purchasing ingredients to support new food hobbies like baking and home bartending. 

A rise in snacking has also been noted, with increased sales reported for snackable comfort foods like cookies and ice cream, as well as healthier choices like protein bars. Another key trend during COVID-19 has been an uptick in interest in the vegan diet.  According to our COVID-19 survey, at the end of 2020, 19% of US consumers were interested in the vegan diet going into 2021.1

Here’s a look at some of the factors driving the trend in vegan eating:

Substitutions During Meat Shortages

Government-enforced shutdowns of some large meat processing facilities due to the spread of COVID-19 left many retailers across the country without their regular meat and poultry products. Faced with these shortages, some consumers opted to explore plant-based meat alternatives like ready-to-eat burgers and heat-and-eat grounds to continue making their family’s favorite meals. 

Home Cooking and Experimenting

With home cooking as another one of the prominent COVID-19 food trends, it should be no surprise that more consumers have been getting creative in the kitchen—not simply cooking more but cooking new dishes. For those interested in trying out new healthy and trendy recipes, vegan and plant-forward food bloggers have been a great resource, with social media an important tool for sharing beautiful food shots.

rice and beans on a dinner plate

Shelf-Stable Foods and Ingredients

Fewer trips out for consumers have also meant more reliance on shelf-stable foods and beverages. Dry or canned beans along with grains such as rice or quinoa are the perfect foundation for a variety of delicious vegan meals—from Mexican chili to Indian curry. Even plant-based milks, which are available aseptically packed, may have an advantage over traditional dairy milk for consumers looking to stay at home more.

Healthy Eating for Optimum Immunity

Consumers know saturated fat and cholesterol in animal-based diets are linked to a host of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. In fact, heart disease is a risk factor for developing serious complications from COVID-19. As a result, one of today’s vegan trends is eating plant foods which many consumers believes can support optimal health and immunity. Phytonutrients, in particular, have been researched for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as immune system benefits.

woman reaching for veggies in kitchen

Link Between Animal Crowding and Emerging Viruses

An increasing number of consumers are learning about the connection between the animal crowding prevalent in wet markets and modern animal agriculture and the emergence of dangerous viruses. Activists, philosophers, and public health specialists have taken to the press to explain how vegan eating can reduce the public health threat of future zoonotic diseases, which have included not only COVID-19, but also bird flu, swine flu, SARS, and Ebola.

Looking Ahead

There are a lot of reasons consumers may be taking a close look at the vegan diet right now. While some of these factors such as supply issues and reduced shopping frequency may not be permanent, other drivers like healthy eating, home cooking, and conscious consumerism may become a new lifestyle choice for many. Manufacturers that can address these interests and offer vegan options to help support this lifestyle may attract and win loyal consumers. 

From our plant-based proteins to our functional and nutritious flax, chia, quinoa and oat ingredients, our plant-based solutions portfolio provides high-quality options that give your products outstanding nutrition, functionality, and flavor. Get in touch to find out how our solutions can help you meet these vegan trends. 


1.    Glanbia Nutritionals Proprietary Study, December 2020. 

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