Vegetarian Dishes Survey: Most Eat Meatless Meals at Home

When you think of a traditional meal, chances are that meal includes some sort of meat with vegetables just as a side dish. But that might soon change. According to the National Restaurant Association, vegetarian dishes, or meals with vegetables served as the main course, are gaining a lot of popularity in 2016. So how many consumers are interested in vegetarian dishes? We asked 1,000 respondents about their dining habits and their thoughts on this growing trend.

vegetarian dishes

Vegetarian Dishes

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, 32% of respondents said that they’ve eaten meals that didn’t include any meat items within the past day. 29% have eaten meatless meals in the past week. 12% have done so within the past month. 6% have within the past three months. 3% have within the past year. 5% said it’s been more than a year since they last had any meatless meals. And 13% said they don’t ever eat meals that don’t include any meat items.

Overall, 83% of those who have eaten meatless meals said that they usually do so at home. 14% said that they sometimes eat meals without any meat items at full-service restaurants. Another 14% eat those meals at quick service restaurants. And 13% have them at parties or special events.

Eating Habits

Though many enjoy meatless meals at least on occasion, just 6% of respondents said they consider themselves to be vegetarian. 3% consider themselves to be vegan. And 5% said they are pescetarian, which is someone who doesn’t eat any meat aside from fish.

In general, 49% of respondents said they believe vegetarian dishes are healthier than other dishes. 40% believe that vegetarian dishes are more ethical. And 41% believe they are more sustainable. Going further, 64% of respondents said that they try to eat food that is healthy. 40% try to eat food that is ethical. And 51% said they try to eat food that is sustainable.

Favorite Brands

When it comes to restaurants, Olive Garden was named as the top choice for vegetable-based dishes. But respondents also named Subway, Panera, Chipotle, Applebee’s and Denny’s as popular options. And in terms of grocery stores, Walmart, Kroger and Trader Joe’s were named popular stores. And Sprout and Amy’s were named as popular brands.

Key Takeaways

Vegetarian dishes do seem to be fairly popular with consumers. But most of them mainly eat those dishes in their own homes instead of out at restaurants. And few actually restrict their diet to eat meatless dishes all the time. For restaurants, this suggests that simply having some meatless options, rather than building a whole menu around them, is a good strategy. But for those restaurants that really want to push vegetarian dishes, calling attention to the health factor could be the best bet, since respondents are most likely to care about healthy food items and to see the connection between health and vegetable-based dishes.

You can view the complete survey results in the widget below and be sure to click “Open Full Report” to take advantage of all the chart and filter options.

Photo Credit: Smoky Chipotle Vegetarian Bowl by Bobbi Bowers under CC BY-ND 2.0

What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on November 14-19 via AYTM’s online survey panel.

Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.