Veganism is everywhere this year.
It feels like it wasn't all that long ago that Tofurkey was the buzzword people associated with vegans. Back then, it seemed like most vegans were motivated by concern for the treatment of animals.
These days, yes, many vegans still choose the lifestyle because they believe in not harming other living creatures. But there are a number of other reasons people choose to go vegan.
This has given rise to the concept of the "plant-based diet," which tends to limit concern for animals to the kitchen and does not have the connotation of eschewing all animal products in all aspects of life.
Whether you identify as vegan or plant-based, you have plenty of company ... and the industry is starting to take notice and provide more and more options for the vegan and plant-based constituency.
People are choosing to focus their diets on plant-based foods out of concern for personal health and a desire to reduce the strain on the planet's resources.
In the 1970s, Frances Moore Lappé wrote Diet for a Small Planet, in which she discussed the fact that it takes 16 pounds of grains or soybeans to produce just one pound of beef.
Americans are throwing away meat while there are food shortages in the rest of the world. If we all ate plant-based, the implication goes, we could end hunger.
The problem and the solution aren't new, but there is more awareness of it than ever before.
If that isn't a good reason to adopt a plant-based diet, I don't know what is.
Food analysts are expecting "the vegan trend" to be less about adamant veganism and more about personal health and the reduction of meat consumption by individuals for health reasons.
Many people who do not choose to go vegan are becoming increasingly interested in eating more vegan food.
Analysts interviewed by Mintel predict that, while consumer interest in vegan products will continue to rise this year, it won't be enough for products to just be vegan.
Consumers are increasingly demanding information on the nutrition of a product. Plant-based and healthy will be the buzzwords.
Awareness-raising events such as Veganuary, which started in the United Kingdom, continue to bring awareness to the health benefits of plant-based foods.
Incidentally, the organizers of Veganuary polled their participants for the 2020 challenge.
More people are interested in veganism than ever before if Google search statisticsare any indication.
An analysis of searches for the word "veganism" between 2015 and 2020 found that they have more than doubled in the United States during that time frame.
Users from France, Australia and Spain have searched for the term three times more in 2020 than they did in 2015, and in Sweden, the searches have quadrupled.
A study conducted by Ipsos Retail Performance found that the number of vegans in the United States has jumped from 290,000 in 2014 to 9.7 million in 2019. No doubt that number will continue to grow.
In the UK, The Vegan Society reports that the number of vegans quadrupled since 2014, with a total of 600,000 in the country.
Lloyd's Register notes that the plant-based food industry has exploded in the last five years, with little sign of slowing down.
British supermarket giant Waitrose has begun rolling out vegan sections in its locations.
In Australia, the world's third-largest vegan market, the vegan food industry is expected to hit $215 million in 2020.
USA Today reported that more plant-based options will hit the mainstream this year.
While 2019 saw vegan burger innovations that became more widely available, with Burger King bringing out the Impossible Whopper, PETA predicts many more plant-based fast food options will surface in 2020, including vegan chicken and vegan donuts.
Who knew that meat free jerky was possible? But it is, and there are several companies making it. Akua makes jerky out of kelp, Jack and Friends' jerky is made of pea protein and jackfruit, and this option is made of mushrooms.
With the increase in nut allergies, companies are also starting to look beyond peanut and almond butter, into butters made from seeds you wouldn't expect.
Look for watermelon seed butter, hemp seed butter and pumpkin seed butter on grocery store shelves in 2020.
PETA also predicts more vegan convenience foods at your supermarket in 2020. As busy people become more health-conscious, their time remains at a premium.
This translates to a rise in the demand for healthy and quick meat free plant-based options, and food companies are listening.
A vegan pie snagged a gold medal at this year's British Pie Awards.
The Evergreen Pie by Pieminster features a filling of leafy greens like kale and spinach, beans and edamame cooked with garlic, ginger and lime zest.
Following in the footsteps of Burger King, which introduced the Impossible Whopper in 2019, KFC is trying out Beyond Chicken in 70 of its restaurants in 2020.
The "chicken" will be available in a variety of options, including tossed in sauces, and in 4- or 12-piece combos. KFC's first trial is said to have been incredibly successful, with the product selling out in just a few hours.
On its web site, KFC notes that while the Beyond Chicken nuggets and wings are 100 percent plant-based, they are cooked in the same fryers as the actual chicken at KFC. For this reason they may not be suitable for all vegans.
Though Natural Products Expo West was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic, previews of the expo revealed that many plant-based products were set to make their debut.
Including brie made of cashews, new meatless breakfast sausage options, dairy-free yogurt squeeze pouches that include 5 grams of pumpkin-seed protein apiece.
A vegan appetizer line of pizza bites, plant-based cheese spreads made of chickpeas and red lentils, a line of vegan condiments, including five flavors of ranch dressing, meatless Swedish meatballs and more.
Vegan food watcher LiveKindly.com, also predicts that this will be the year of the vegan chicken. Oats became trendy last year when oat milk's popularity began to grow.
But this year people predict that oats will become integral to other plant-based substitutes as well.
A Swedish company is making vegan diet friendly yogurt out of oats, and Taco Bell is rolling out an oat-based meat substitute at some of its locations.
With the success of the Impossible Burger, some fast food outlets on other continents have begun adding vegan cheese to their line-ups so that going vegan no longer must mean going without cheeseburgers or pizza.
Domino's and Pizza Hut are reportedly adding vegan cheese to their menus in the EU and Australia.
Hopefully this trend will make it to other countries soon!
In grocery stores, look for more meltable vegan cheese offerings in addition to small-batch, artisan cheese made using the same techniques used to create real cheese.
Anyone who enjoys looking up recipes to complement their vegan diet knows that there are lots of great ways to make egg-style dishes using ingredients like tofu or chickpea flour.
And vegan egg substitutes intended for use in baking have been around for years. But this year, look for more products that look and taste even more like real eggs.
Some options being produced include egg patties and vegan versions of hard-boiled eggs.
Manufacturers aren't just ramping up sweets. Expect new vegan chocolate to hit the market soon (and really, this has been far too long coming, as it's incredibly easy to make vegan chocolate).
LiveKindly predicts that vegan baked goods will become more common and easy to find in conventional bakeries than ever before.
Though many use the word plant-based as a synonym for "vegan," it was actually coined in 1980 by T. Colin Campbell of The China Study.
Campbell wanted a word to describe people who didn't eat animal products, but who weren't caught up in the politics previously associated with the word "vegan."
And perhaps he was onto something. Though veganism was seen as a fringe movement for many years, it seems that "plant-based" is a more socially acceptable moniker that is already seeing some significant traction this year.
Veganism actually got a huge boost at the very start of the year with the plant-based Golden Globes.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which hosts the show, decided to serve an entirely vegan menu in order to raise awareness about the environmental impact of eating meat.
Created by chef Matthew Morgan, the menu included: chilled golden beet soup, King Oyster Mushroom scallops, wild mushroom risotto, Brussels sprouts, globe carrots, and pea tendrils.
Dessert was a vegan opera dome with praline Gunaja crumble and caramelized hazelnuts.
"Over the holidays, we took time to reflect on the last year and began thinking about the new year and the decade ahead," Lorenzo Soria, HFPA president), told theLos Angeles Times of the decision. "The climate crisis is impossible to ignore and after speaking with our peers, and friends in the community, we felt challenged to do better. The decision to serve an entirely plant-based meal was embraced by our partners at The Beverly Hilton, and represents a small step in response to a big problem."
Soria continued to The Hollywood Reporter, "The climate crisis is surrounding us and we were thinking about the new year and the new decade. So we started talking between us about what we can do to send a signal. We don't think we'll change the world with one meal, but we decided to take small steps to bring awareness. The food we eat, the way it is processed and grown and disposed of, all of that contributes to the climate crisis."
Big-name actors likeLeonardo di Caprio andJoaquin Phoenix (who is a vegan), praised the decision.
Golden Globe hostRicky Gervais used the meal as an occasion to poke fun at the HFPA, saying, "The meal tonight was all vegetables, as are all of the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press."
Fur has become less and less popular over the years.
We see high-profile vegan designers like Stella McCartney promoting vegan fashion; even non-vegan houses like Hugo Boss have gotten in on the game by making items of innovative vegan leathers.
We are seeing more alternatives to silk all the time - Tencel and Cupro, just to name a few.
Hugo Boss released its first"vegan-approved" suit, meaning the garment is certified with aPETA Vegan Approved logo.
To qualify for the approval, the designer had to be sure every element of the suit was free of animal products - from the dyes to the glues to the chemicals used in the fabric production.
The slim-fit suit is made of linen and comes in several colors.
Vegan Fashion Week will return to LA in April, and we expect to see many more innovative vegan fashions on display there.
Healthy grocery giant Whole Foods, which always has the latest plant-based options, also has announced a list of predictions for this year.
Its first prediction is the rise of regenerative farming, which farms the soil in such a way as to continuously replenish it with nutrients.
West African flavors, which have been underrepresented in American cuisine, will be big this year. Look for more dishes complemented by peanuts, tomatoes, onions, ginger and lemongrass.
For years most premade vegan protein options were soy-dependent, but this year should see a rise in alternative proteins including mung bean, pumpkin and hemp seed.
The variety of vegan butters (chickpea butter?) and spreads is projected to increase, as well. Along with this will be the increase in kid-friendly options.
With the plant-based and vegan diet on the rise, people are eating meat less to avoid heart disease and save the planet. There's never been a better time to reduce meat consumption and go vegan.
Though people who are going vegan for a healthier diet aren't going to be eating a lot of junk food, the rise of fast food options will just make it easier to choose well when you don't have a lot of choices.
These are exciting times for vegans, and the options are only going to multiply in the future. Perhaps the range of offerings will encourage more people to stop eating meat and go vegan.
A vegan freelance web designer and blog writer based out of Austin, Texas USA.
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