Why many Americans have drastically changed their diet in the last five years

·3-min read

One in five Americans say their diet is radically different now compared to what it was like in 2015, research indicates. 

In a new survey of 2,000 U.S. residents, 19% believe that what they eat on a regular basis has changed significantly within the last five years.

Those who switched the menu up for themselves did so due to shifts in their health and dietary needs (41%), much more so than their personal tastes (35%) or environmental concerns (19%).

Meanwhile, another 53% believe that their food choices have remained more or less the same — in part, perhaps, because three-fourths follow some form of external restrictions or guidelines in managing their eating habits. 

While trendy diet plans like intermittent fasting (26%) and ketogenic eating (20%) have gained a lot of ground, neither can hold a candle to good old-fashioned calorie-counting (38%).

Conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by Modern Table, the survey also asked respondents to weigh in on the fads they see while food shopping, especially the rise of plant-based foods. 

Almost half (48%) referred to themselves as omnivorous — eating animal and plant products in equal amounts — while 17% consume only animal products with no plants at all. 

Interestingly, more men (26%) than women (12%) claim to subscribe to this carnivorous all-meat diet.

And a third of respondents identified as either vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian, meaning that they favor or even exclusively eat plant-based foods. 

However, complete vegans — who don't eat meat or animal products of any kind — are still in the minority, the results suggest. 

In comparison, almost 12 times as many respondents said they regularly refer to vegan eating as "rabbit food" (51%) as said they themselves were vegan (3%).

But despite the jokes, almost 46% of the remaining respondents said they'd either tried going vegan before or have considered trying it in the past.

One in ten are also eating more vegan foods than they did previously, while another 60% have tried their hand at making their own vegan food.

And of those with vegan cooking experience, 48% said they tried it out because they'd wanted to make something healthy for themselves.

When asked what they expect vegan food products to be like, respondents overwhelmingly said "healthy" (49%), "plant-based" (48%), and "natural'' (38%). 

"All too often, people mistakenly assume that eating a vegan diet means completely giving up your favorite foods, sacrificing taste or expecting to lose out on protein and other important nutrients. That's simply not the case," said Nick Banuelos, a spokesperson for Modern Table. 

"In fact, more and more alternatives are coming to market every day," Banuelos added, "Using plant-based ingredients and unique flavor profiles that often end up being healthier than their traditional counterparts."

And for many, the difference is negligible: even though 46% think they can always tell a vegan product from a non-vegan one, half have admitted to bringing something home without realizing it was vegan until after the fact.

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