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An assortment of vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, seaweed, tempeh, grains and nuts on a counter

Supporting plant-forward diets

Average read time: 5 minutes

Our brands provide a range of plant-based products offering more choice to help consumers adopt healthier and more sustainable diets.

A semi-open burger with iceberg lettuce and red chilli slices next to a pack of The Vegetarian Butcher Patty on the Back

Multiple studies show (Opens in a pop-up window ) that eating more protein from plant sources and less from animal sources is key to building sustainable diets that are good for people and the planet. We know that changing eating habits can be challenging. Our aim is to help people adopt more plant-forward diets by providing consumers with plant-based options that align with their tastes and eating habits. We also support the transition to healthier and more sustainable eating patterns by investing in research to increase our understanding (Opens in a pop-up window ) of behaviour change as well as consumers’ needs and motivations.

Read more about our nutrition philosophy and approach (Opens in a pop-up window ).

Our goal

€1.5 billion of sales per annum from plant-based products in categories whose products are traditionally using animal-derived ingredients by 2025.

€1.2bnOur progress in 2023

We’ve been recognised for our efforts by the FAIRR Initiative (Opens in a pop-up window ), a collaborative investor network that raises awareness of the environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities in the global food sector. It named Unilever as the leader in its 2022 benchmark (Opens in a pop-up window ) of companies that are using protein diversification to drive growth and build climate-aligned portfolios.

Innovating to increase consumer choice

We’re working towards our goal, for all categories in scope. We’re extending existing product ranges to include options that do not use animal-derived ingredients and innovating new plant-based foods.

Ice cream without the dairy

We continue to expand our ice cream portfolio with dairy-free choices across brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Magnum, Wall’s and Cornetto.

Plant-based meat alternatives

The Vegetarian Butcher (Opens in a pop-up window ) is our leading plant-based meat brand. Its products are used by both consumers and chefs. The brand has established many global partnerships with quick service restaurants such as Starbucks, Subway, Domino’s and Burger King. For example, one in five Burger King Whoppers sold in Germany is now plant-based.

To ensure The Vegetarian Butcher contributes to our vision to deliver more sustainable diets, we’ve developed tailored nutrition standards for plant-based meat alternatives aligned with our general fortification guidelines for micronutrients like iron and vitamin B12.

We want to ensure that plant-based foods are just as satisfying as those derived from animal sources. Several studies assessed the satiating power of animal meat and plant-based meat, including one using The Vegetarian Butcher (Opens in a pop-up window ) products. The results of these studies consistently show that plant-based meat products provide a satisfying experience without leaving diners feeling hungry.

[11:21 AM] van-der-Heijden, Muriel Cropped person slicing a slab of The Vegetarian Butcher Nobacon using a meat slicer

Plant-based dressings

We’re developing plant-based alternatives to popular dressings and condiments.

Encouraging plant-forward diets

To support people in their transition to plant-forward diets, we go beyond providing products to sharing inspiration and recipes for plant-based meals (Opens in a pop-up window ). We’re also making it easier for people to find vegetarian foods in the shops. In the Netherlands, we collaborate with the Nationale Postcode Loterij and Albert Heijn for the 'Geniet van 't Goede' (Opens in a pop-up window ) campaign, which inspires consumers with recipes of well-loved dishes featuring easy and delicious vegetarian swaps. In its 10th edition, over €22 million was spent on vegetarian products using gift cards sent to more than 3 million members.

Investing in future foods

We believe plant-forward diets will become even more common so we’re innovating for novel plant-based ingredients. We’re investing in growing and diversifying the range of plant-based protein sources in our products and recipes to respect the planet and meet consumers’ expectations.

We also work with others to advance our shared understanding and development of plant-based ingredients and foods.

Woman looking through a microscope against a purple background

Partnerships for diversified protein sources

Unilever, The Vegetarian Butcher and ENOUGH have joined forces (Opens in a pop-up window ) to find new sources of protein, such as fungi.

Illustration – women placing items on a shelf and a man cycling through a park

Joint research on the protein transition

Unilever is participating in the EU-funded project Giant Leaps (Opens in a pop-up window ) seeking to accelerate the shift from animal-based proteins to those from alternative sources.

Illustration - People floating in the air using laptops against a yellow background

Consortiums for plant-based innovation

Unilever is partnering with the Plant Meat Matters (Opens in a pop-up window ) and PlantPROMISE (Opens in a pop-up window ) projects to develop meat substitutes from plant protein.

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