Working in an industry that is experiencing rapid growth, I often get a preview of the latest products, trends, and technology in the plant-based realm. With an eagerness to get 2020 in our rearview mirror, and looking ahead to what we will be eating and drinking for health and wellbeing in the plant-based space in 2021 and beyond, I thought I would share my Top 10 Plant-based Food Predictions for 2021.
Bye Bye, Plant-based Burger, we’re moving on!
Note that not all plant-based options below are equally healthy. As always, if you made your own burger at home from mushrooms and lentils, it would be healthier than a burger made with coconut oil at the store. Of course, no surprise there and the same will usually apply to the list below.
That said, even the transition foods help move us away from meat and dairy and are either better for us (see number two as we say ‘adios’ to nitrates), even if not perfect, or super healthy (see number seven.) 2021 will give us a plethora of options.
Lastly, diligently reading labels is still a mandate for 2021, so don’t let that super skill lapse.
1. Veggies of the Sea
Seafood, seafood, seafood! Plant-based seafood is all the rage: Good Catch Tuna and Crab and Fish Cakes, The Plant-Based Seafood Company (made with Konjac), New Wave Foods, Shiok Meats (made from cellular agriculture), Save to Sea (made from carrots). There are so many plant-based seafood options and more on the way. Plant-based seafood is to 2021 what plant-based burgers were to 2019
2. But, Bacon and Pass the Plant-based Pork, Please
Finally, there is an answer to, “But, how can you give up bacon?” Hooray Foods bacon is on the West Coast of the United States in just a couple of stores but will grow into more stories in 2021. Folks looking to give up nitrites and nitrates can finally have their bacon and eat it, too.
In fact, while we’re talking pork, plant-based pork options will grow around the globe with Omnipork running rampant domination in Asia and brands like Barvecue pulled pork going coast to coast in the U.S.
3. Eggs Over Easy
Getting your hands on plant-based eggs, usually made from mung beans or chickpeas or other recognizable foods, has never been easier. With Eat Just distributed across the U.S., Zero Egg available in foodservice, and Evo Eggs in India, plant-based eggs are one thing you won’t have to scramble for in 2021.
4. Plant-based Fried Chick’n
Ok, so we are talking about fried chicken, and no, vegan fried chick’n won’t miraculously be fried. It’s fried, people! It says it in the name! But, it isn’t chicken, so it’s got that going for it! In other words, it won’t have hormones, antibiotics, and the negative properties of meat. Should you live on vegan fried chick’n every day? Probably not.
But like its friend, the plant-based burger, this is a great option when you are out with your crew and can’t always control going to a plant-based restaurant. From Rebellyous Foods to Beyond Meat, from Nuggs to Vegan Fried Chick’n, you will now be able to gobble up some vegan lickin’ good all across the land.
5. King Mushroom
2021 is the year of the mushroom and mushrooms reign supreme. You will see whole food mushroom meats from places like Atlast Foods and Meati that are steaks and pieces of meat made directly from mushrooms, a generally very healthy option.
6. Frozen Party
Oh, the party is in the frozen food aisle: plant-based ice cream, cheesecake, and portable ice cream pies that fit in your hand and go with you on the run: Hello Revolution Gelato! The wild and crazy treat aisle will continue to grow in the middle of the grocery store.
As is obvious to most, we aren’t talking about celery, we are talking about ice cream which means fat and calories. So, this one doesn’t do your health a huge favor, but it does keep you away from dairy, a health step in the right direction for not ingesting casein, which, as discussed by T. Colin Campbell in The China Study, can cause cancer.
7. WFPB 4 U
Yep! Whole Food Plant-based gets super-sized as people want to recognize what they eat and take back their health. The Beet readers: Represent! This is where we shine! Products that are less processed, have clean ingredients, short ingredient lists, and are combinations of actual fruits and vegetables will start to take center stage.
8. Drink To Your Health
Needing more probiotics, but don’t want the calories? Want an alcoholic drink, but don’t want the carbs? Hoping your drink might up your antibodies? Healthy drinking goes big with probiotic drinks like hard kombucha by Flying Embers and low -calorie sparkling drinks with exotic natural flavors like Blood Orange Tumeric and Watermelon Hibiscus by Nix & Kik (coming soon to Amazon) are there to give you a pick-me-up without the calories.
Even the Co-Founder of Oatly, Bjorn Oste, is in on it. His newest company Good Idea Drinks offers sparkling waters with chromium and amino acids to help cut sugar spikes during and after meals, a valuable asset for diabetics.
9. No Can Do
Plant-based takes on plastic. Eco-friendly packaging will be a very important priority as people want it all. They don’t just want their food animal-free, but they also want their packaging not to damage the planet and companies are responding.
Grocery stores revamp their real estate and plant-based foods come out of hiding so finally, people can find them. Why? Because Grocery Store Managers are (business) people, too, and they want to make money, just like everyone else.
A study by the Plant-Based Foods Association showed that when plant-based meats were placed in the meat area where (surprise!) people could find them, sales went up 23% nationally. Sales went up 32% in the Midwest. That’s a meaningful coin that no manager wants to leave on the table.
Since the study came out over nine months ago, COVID-19 has made this even more imperative as people focus on getting healthy by boosting their immune systems. According to Nielsen, sales of fresh plant-based meat alternatives have nearly doubled every month this year. Plantega, a company that puts fridges full of plant-based products in NYC-area bodegas, is a great example of traditional grocers trying to welcome in the meatless and dairy-free crowd.
11. Bonus! You’re Going Down
Plant-based prices come down as distribution goes up and more and more plant-based food manufacturing facilities come on-line. Yahoo! With good news such as this, 2020 must really be over!
Elysabeth Alfano is a plant-based business consultant and helps people transition to a plant-based diet. Follow her @ElysabethAlfano on all platforms and at ElysabethAlfano.com