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A recent study by Mintel shows that it’s not just vegetarians who enjoy meat substitutes on their plates. As meat becomes more expensive and global demands grows, carnivores are experimenting with replacements such as tempeh, tofu, seitan, and veggie burgers. The survey finds that 36 percent of US shoppers buy meatless products, even though only 7 percent identified themselves as vegetarians. In 2012, the sales of meat substitutes rose 8% from the beginning of the decade to gross $553 million.

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According to Mintel, burgers made from vegetables, soy, or wheat are the most popular items, followed by mock poultry. They note that women are more likely to buy meat alternatives, and most consumers cite reasons such as health, taste, and an effort to reduce their meat intake. Diners now enjoy a much wider selection than they did several years ago with the introduction of 110 new meat replacement products in 2010 and 2011 alone. “The bottom line is that vegetarians and vegans aren’t the only people eating ‘fake’ meat — meat eaters are also exploring this newfound protein superpower,” Beth Bloom from Mintel told NPR’s food blog, The Salt.

Despite the trend towards meatless protein alternatives, the majority of Americans still prefer the real deal. 67 percent of those in the survey prefer the real animal, 34 percent shied away from the taste, and 20 percent did not enjoy the texture of the meatless products.

For carnivores who are looking to reduce their environmental footprint, many alternatives are beginning to gain a foothold. And for those looking for more exotic alternative protein sources, there are now insect farms, in-vitro beef, and chicken-less eggs. What kind of alternative eats get your mouth watering?

+ Mintel

Via NPR