A few years ago, supermarkets started selling more plant-based products and we looked on with interest to see if this would just be a passing trend; a health-craze that would shortly disappear. 

Mushrooms are an amazing addition to a plant-based diet, providing lots of important vitamins and minerals. Their meaty texture can help people who are reducing their meat intake to transition without feeling like they’re missing out.

In 2021, it’s quite safe to say that the trend for plant-based living has not only got stronger but that many people have now fully embraced this way of living.

There is a huge opportunity for the mushroom industry to benefit!

The popularity of the plant-based diet is growing

One way to measure the growth of the trend is the Veganuary movement.

Each January, people pledge to be vegan for the entire month. Starting in 2014, it has grown rapidly and in 2021 had over 500,000 people worldwide participate.

The numbers are enough to make the major retailers curate entire sections of their shelves to appeal to shoppers, with some even launching new ranges of vegan food.

While going completely vegan is unrealistic for most people, a plant-based diet is much easier to maintain. People who eat plant-based diets tend to consume a mainly vegan diet full of vegetables, legumes, beans and fruit. But they will occasionally eat small amounts of meat, dairy and eggs.

We’ve seen the number of plant-based milk on offer increase drastically, along with margarine, cheese and confectionary. From snacks based on nuts and seeds to frozen pizzas with vegan cheese, the plant-based section of the supermarket continues to grow each year.

People are eating less meat

Market research conducted in 2018 showed that a third (34%) of British meat-eaters reported having reduced their meat consumption, compared to 28% in 2017.

In 2020, Tesco said that sales of meat alternatives, specifically burgers, mince and sausage substitutes, had increased by 50%. In fact, they aim to increase their sales of meat alternative by 300% in the next five years!

What’s driving this change?

Surprisingly, animal welfare isn’t the main reason people adopt a plant-based diet, although it certainly is a big factor for many.

Of the people who signed up for Veganuary in 2021, 38% said it was for health reasons. Plant-based diets are linked with reduced risk of heart disease, strokes and type 2 diabetes. Research also suggests that healthy plant-based diets can help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and promote a healthy body weight – helping people avoid many illnesses.

Environmental concerns are also a big factor in adopting a more plant-based diet. From recycling to reducing emissions, people are more aware of the importance of being more sustainable. 

Mushrooms are in a unique position to become a key ingredient in the plant-based diet

With so many people trying to eat less meat, mushrooms are one of the best products on the vegetable aisle to make things that bit easier.

  • Their unique umami flavour adds a distinct flavour that many other plant-based foods can’t, making meals more delicious.
  • They’re extremely versatile and can be cooked in butter or oil with an array of herbs and spices.
  • Their meaty texture adds a bite to meals, without using a processed, meat alternative.

There are so many health benefits that could be marketed to plant-based eaters too. Mushrooms are fat free and full of essential B vitamins, selenium and even Vitamin D, which us hard to get on a plant-based vegan diet.

Finally, mushrooms are one of the most sustainable food options when sourced locally. They can be grown all year-round using by-products from other agricultural practices.

Ultimately, people who are moving to a more plant-based lifestyle are more health-conscious and often well educated about their food.

We should all be shouting about the amazing health properties of mushrooms.