NEW YORK — They may not be candidates for the new lab-grown burger that made recent headlines but an increasing number of kosher consumers in the US and Israel are avoiding meat, a KosherToday study shows. Products like Dr. Praeger’s vegi-burgers here and Zoglo meat replacement vegetarian burgers in Israel have increased mani-fold as more kosher consumers turn to the vegetarian imitations. Some sources in the kosher industry say that it is a reflection of changes in society as a whole as sales of beef have been in decline.
According to a recent survey by Mintel, 36% of US consumers said they buy meat substitutes, even though only 7 percent identified themselves as vegetarians. According to Mintel, sales of meat alternatives reached $553 million in 2012, up 8% from two years earlier. Whether made from vegetables, wheat or soy, many of the kosher consumers are eating the meat substitutes out of health concerns and eating the meat replacements as a major source of protein.
Some retailers said that they noticed a trend especially amongst women that eat the vegetarian meat substitutes during the week, but will eat poultry or beef on the Shabbat. The retailers say that age definitely makes a difference as most younger people still prefer meat over substitutes. At least one source told KosherToday that he had seen a 10% increase in the past year of the consumption of vegetarian burgers, for example, and expects that trend to continue. One place to enjoy the imitation products is in some of the upscale dairy restaurants where vegi-burgers and vegetarian chopped liver are popular items.