Thanks to social media, food trends move quicker than ever. For instance, one day you’re enjoying a unicorn smoothie, and the next you’re snapping photos of charcoal water. But we aren’t complaining. In fact, we love how social media platforms such as Instagram can keep us informed regarding the latest and greatest in veganism. Nearly every day, you can find us scrolling through Instagram feeds of popular restaurants, food bloggers, and food-centric organizations to discover what’s trending today and what might be filling our plates in the coming months. And with all that scrolling, we’ve noticed a trend, and that trend is that many food experts and bloggers are saying that plant-based food is the future. Don’t believe us? Recently, restaurant consultancy group Baum+Whiteman named “plant-based” as the biggest food trend of 2018. While we already predicted that would happen eventually, here are eight more vegan foods that we’re finding almost daily on social media.
1. Superfood beverages
First, it was all about matcha lattes. Then, along came fancy juices made with activated charcoal. However, this year, we’ve seen a shift back to color, as superfood beverages have been dominating social media and restaurant menus. Many of these drinks are made into non-dairy lattes or smoothies and come swirled with turmeric, goji berry concentrate, moringa, or blue majik, a trademarked product made from algae.
Going zero-waste can mean lots of things. In terms of food, one aspect of being a zero-waste vegan means using all edible parts of food to decrease waste. This is doubly good (for the environment and for you), as those roots, stems, and skins are some of the most nutrient-dense parts of a plant, and, if you think creatively, there’s lots you can do with broccoli stalks and beet leaves. According to the Specialty Food Association, as consumers become more aware of how much food is wasted in the United States, more food products (such as pressed juice made from imperfect fruit, chips made from fruit pulp, and snack bars made from spent grain from the beer-making process) will be made from ingredients and scraps that would have otherwise been discarded.
3. Cruelty-free meat
Meat alternatives are going mainstream, and global media are reporting the huge rise in innovative plant-based options, including lab-grown meat made from cultured animal cells. Last year’s trend lists shared the opportunities for meatless burgers such as those from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, and now they’re becoming available at restaurants and grocery stores across the nation. While we’re all happily chowing down on the Impossible Burger made from heme (an iron-containing molecule found in blood that makes meat smell, sizzle, and bleed), food-technology companies are currently working on cruelty-free versions of chicken, duck, meatballs, and shrimp. And we can’t wait.
4. Gut-friendly foods
In the wellness world, fermented foods are more popular than ever due to an increasing amount of research pointing to their powerful health benefits (which range from boosting gut health to staving off inflammation). The good news? This heightened awareness means fermenting, pickling, and preserving are back, with a special focus on plant-based probiotics such as kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, and miso.
5. Back to basics
In recent years, plenty of attention has been given to gluten-free foods, while traditional bread-making has been elevated by the same sourcing and fine-tuned production processes we see with proteins and vegetables. Bakers are using local grains, milling the day before baking, and incorporating long proofing times, and, in doing so, have been re-inventing what good bread means. Small, local bakeries are popping up seemingly everywhere, and handmade sourdough bread with a side of high-quality olive oil has become a trendy appetizer at modern restaurants.
6. Full-fat everything
Fat is back thanks in part to the rise of the avocado-toast trend, and this trend is part of a larger shift toward natural, unprocessed foods. Today, people are more interested in healthy, whole-food fats such as avocados, coconut, nuts, and seeds instead of processed, low-fat alternatives. In fact, all-avocado cafés have become a thing, and we don’t mind one bit.
7. Beyond coffee
While coffee is always trending among those who are overworked and sleep-deprived, tea is seeking to reinvent itself this year as a healthy way to wake up. The food industry realizes this, which is why shoppers are seeing coffee and tea being used in ways that extend beyond beverages and into products such as flavored non-dairy milk, energy bars, and ice cream (So Delicious Cold Brew Coffee ice cream, anyone?).
8. Vegan sweets
Not that we didn’t know this already, but vegan desserts are everywhere this year, as Nation’s Restaurant News predicted. As more people realize that desserts can be awesome without animal products, they have begun to find substitutes for eggs and dairy in their sweet treats. According to Pinterest, there has been a 329-percent rise in popularity for vegan dessert pins on its site. This prediction also mirrors trends already happening in grocery stores, as leading ice-cream brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Haagen-Dazs, Halo Top, and Breyers have launched vegan ice-cream options in recent months.
Nicole Axworthy is a writer and editor who is currently obsessed with all things fermented (such as kombucha and kimchi).