Top 10 Plant-Based Food Trends for 2021
Follow these plant-based food trends to get your fill of nutritious, mouthwatering vegetarian and vegan fare, from cauliflower to snack bars.
Nutritionists have been singing the praises of plant-based food for a while now. So it’s no surprise that in 2021, it looks like plant-based eating will not be just a trend but a burgeoning lifestyle.
“The shift to eating a more plant-based diet is exciting since consumers are finally getting on board with the messaging nutrition professionals have been saying for years,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, a registered dietitian and author of 2 Day Diabetes Diet. “Reducing consumption of high-fat animal products and increasing our intake of whole plant-based food may benefit not only health. It may also benefit the environment.”
Plant-based eating primarily focuses on foods that come from plants—fruits and vegetables, as well as seeds, nuts, whole grains, and legumes—while minimizing processed foods and reducing or eliminating animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, and honey.
In the new year, there are plenty of food trends to look forward to. Many of them will help you eat a more balanced—and tasty—plant-based diet. Here’s the scoop on these foods trends, plus, registered dietitians weigh in on the nutritional value of each plant-based food.
Already a fan of cauliflower pizza crust and cauliflower rice? Then say hello to the veggie’s newest offspring: cauliflower crackers, cauliflower Alfredo sauce, and cauliflower breadcrumbs.
“I can always get excited about veggie-forward convenience foods, whether that’s packaged cauliflower rice or another shortcut veggie-based item,” says Samantha Cassetty, RD, a registered dietitian in New York City and co-author of Sugar Shock.
About 90 percent of people don’t meet daily vegetable requirements, she says. “So anything that makes it easier, tastier—and frankly, more fun—to eat veggies is a win in my book.”
New plant-based meats
Beyond Meat recently went through a revamp, announcing a new burger available in early 2021 that features 55 percent less saturated fat than 80/20 beef. And of course, Impossible “meats” remain a staple for the plant-based food lover and home cook.
But in 2021, there will be even more plant-based protein options to add to your shopping list.
“Because of the popularity of programs like keto, paleo, and Whole30, processed meats like jerky, bacon, and packaged deli meat have a health halo, but this is misplaced,” says Cassetty. The World Health Organization “classifies processed meats as a carcinogen, which means there’s good evidence that these foods raise your risk for certain cancers.”
Low-alcohol or no-alcohol drinks
Just in time for Dry January, 2021 may be the year of lots and lots of sober-drink picks. This includes alcohol-free beer (which, by definition, may contain a very small amount of alcohol, up to 0.5% ABV), as well as novel stand-ins for Prosecco, gin, tequila, and more.
What’s more, cannabis drinks have come on the market in 2020, and also, due to people wanting to limit their possible overconsumption of alcohol during the pandemic, mocktails are also having a moment.
Savoury snack bars
If you like the simplicity of a snack bar to tide you over between meals, you’ll have to add the newest savoury bars to your plant-based food shopping list. Think bars that are made with ingredients such as almonds, kale, tahini, and oats.
Packaged foods sweetened with fruit
Fruit as a natural sweetener? Yup, it’s a thing. You’ll find dates and prunes are being used to sweeten up dishes and treats.
Reducing added sugar is more important than ever, as we now know that eating a diet high in added sugar may increase your risk of obesity and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Plant-based convenience meals
With the Covid-19 pandemic still strong—and so many Canadians working from home—at-home convenience meals are more popular than ever. Many of these are vegan, including plant-based food options from brands like PC.
In the beginning, there was chickpea pasta. Now, you’ll find chickpea rice, pizza, tortillas, cereal, and more. “Chickpeas are a source of fibre and protein and make an excellent savoury snack when roasted,” says Lisa Andrews, RD, owner of Sound Bites Nutrition. “Food-trend experts suggest chickpea tofu and chickpea baked goods are in the works, too. These are great gluten-free, nut-free options.”
You’ve probably gotten your fair share of gut-healing probiotics from dairy-based yogurt. Now you can eat vegan, probiotic-offering versions in drinks, too.
“From smoothies to kefir, kombucha, and even probiotic water, it seems probiotics are popping up in drinks everywhere,” says Palinski-Wade. “I expect these probiotic drinks to gain even more popularity in 2021. I love this trend since gut health is essential to everything from the immune system to mood and even sleep regulation.”
These days, people focused on eating plant-based food can find vegan and vegetarian versions of almost any condiment. Take, for instance, vegan mayo, typically made with avocado oil.
And if coffee creamers count as condiments, you’ll find a plethora of plant-based options available as well, including oat-based creamers and coconut-milk-based options.
As alcohol-free beverages are soaring high, so are drinks featuring adaptogenic ingredients. Adaptogens are substances derived from plants that supposedly help the body counteract and adapt to stress. Some smoothies claim to fight stress and fatigue, others are said to support sleep, calm, and more.
“Many of these beverages claim to be all-natural, low in sugar, and low in calories,” says Keri Gans, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet. “And many of them might suggest certain health benefits, such as a ‘better night sleep,’ ‘boost energy,’ and ‘good for digestion.'”