MeatToo generation: What are flexitarians and why should we care?

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The new conscious consumer is flexible.
You’ll find vegetables and meat in their trolleys and probably plastic as well.
In its top 10 global consumer trends for 2019, market-research provider EuroMonitor describes the conscious consumer as a flexitarian.
The definition of a flexitarian is broad, with most “flexible” South Africans calling themselves vegetarians or vegans who eat meat sometimes. However, some may describe them as vegetarians who cheat.
“Veganism, the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products for any purpose, is no longer seen as a choice for life with total eradication of animal-based products with today’s conscious consumers having a more flexible approach to their consumption and choosing to be vegan – or flexitarian – for one meal, one or two days a week,” EuroMonitor researchers said.
The research found that more mainstream food companies such as KFC, which recently launched a vegan burger in the country, were embracing the new conscious-consumer trend.
EuroMonitor International lifestyle director Gina Westbrook said including the Veggie Burger in the menu of selected KFC restaurants in SA was a bold move.
“SA has heavily invested in meat production and sales, and the popularity of fried chicken is particularly widespread among consumers. KFC’s animal welfare initiatives continue, with the company currently testing faux fried chicken in the UK, mimicking its signature product with herbs and spices minus the meat, hoping to launch this vegetarian option in the country in 2019,” she said.
Grace Galuszynski of Uitenhage, in the Eastern Cape, has been a flexitarian since 2014 when she read a book on eating right for your blood type.
“According to my book, my blood type did not allow me to eat meat, while my husband’s blood type would not allow him not to give up meat so we decided to compromise,” she told Times Select.
The couple consumes vegetables during the week and meat during the weekend.
Since 2014, more people in her social circle have become flexitarians purely to either protect animals or save money by eating less meat.
“Since 2014, I have definitely seen an increase in vegetarian offerings at restaurants as well,” said Galuszynski.
Nicolette Smith has been a flexible eater since a teenager.
“I would love to be completely vegetarian, but my lifestyle, and society in general, doesn’t really cater for it. Although I have seen a more positive movement towards more plant-based options recently,” she said.
Smith said there was definitely a move towards being more conscious about what people ate, but she worried that it was “more on an ‘in-thing’ or being trendy in the younger generations at the moment”.
EuroMonitor’s top 10 global consumer trends in 2019 are:
Age agnostic: Boundaries of old age are shifting. As people live longer and take better care of themselves, older consumers feel and want to be treated as younger.
Back-to-basics for status: Shoppers are searching for authentic products and experiences, moving away from overt materialism to simplicity as well as from generic to higher quality products.
Conscious consumer: What used to be the domain of ethically positioned, niche producers is now being embraced by conventional companies through higher welfare products.
Digitally together: As our digital capabilities and comfort using new technologies grow, so will the potential of what can be created or experienced together, but remotely.
Everyone’s an expert: Whereas previously shoppers relied on a certain brand or information source, now companies must constantly innovate to entice more inquisitive shoppers.
Finding my JOMO: The Fear Of Missing Out has now given place to the Joy Of Missing Out. Consumers want to protect their mental well-being, disconnecting from technology and prioritising what they truly want and enjoy doing. I can look after myself: As people become more self-sufficient, they take preventative measures against illness, unhappiness and discomfort without consulting a professional.
I want a plastic-free world: The push for a plastic-free society has gained momentum, creating a virtuous circle where businesses gain by improving sustainability.
I want it now!: Consumers seek instant gratification and frictionless experiences that mesh with their lifestyles, allowing them to dedicate more time to their professional or social lives.
Loner living: More people – especially older consumers – across the world break the stigma of living alone and embrace their independent lifestyles...

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