From the rise of plant-based meat substitutes to sustainable alternatives for plastic cups and straws in restaurants, eco-friendly food products were on the rise in 2019. According to our food editors, the new year will usher in even more plant-based products, wellness-driven beverages, and environmentally-conscious cooking. Deputy food editor Greg Lofts says vegetarian and plant-based products are being championed by Generation Z who have "concerns about sustainability and the environmental impact of their choices." Here are all of the food trends our editors predict you'll see in 2020.
Whether you're lactose-intolerant, vegan, or just enjoy a splash of almond milk in your morning coffee, dairy-free milk is popular among many different demographics of consumers. Senior digital food editor Victoria Spencer expects that oat milk will continue to trend, as well as boutique dairy milk purchased from small farmers. Interested in making your own alternative milk? Try Almond Cow ($195, almondcow.co), a plant-based milk maker, says assistant food editor Riley Wofford—"You can soak, blend, and strain your milk in the same jug (no need for pesky nut bags!) and it's very easy to clean."
Non-alcoholic cocktails are gaining traction year-round—not just during "Dry January" or "Sober October." Both Riley and Victoria are fans of Seedlip ($45.95, williams-sonoma.com), the producer of the first non-alcoholic distilled spirits. "More and more people (especially Millennials) are becoming more conscientious about how much they're drinking," says Riley. If you're in a social setting, or just don't feel like drinking something alcoholic, there are plenty of alluring options to choose from.
Plant-Based Meat Substitutes
It's no surprise that alternative meats are expected to be even more popular throughout 2020. Last year, products from Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger corned the market in grocery stores and restaurants, appealing to vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Greg says we can expect even more from this trend in 2020: "Many brands are launching meat substitute products made from things like mushrooms, seaweed, whole grains, legumes, and other plant-based ingredients."
Away with no-calorie, artificial sweeteners and in with more natural alternative sweeteners. "Coconut sugar and agave are already in the supermarket aisle, but expect to see pomegranate syrup and date syrup soon in your grocery store, too, if they aren't already there," says Victoria. And don't overlook other natural sweeteners, like honey and maple syrup, which have been popular for decades.
If you're picturing seaweed, you're not wrong. Readily accessible nori sheets, which are edible dried seaweed sheets, can be used in ramen or for sushi rolls. Riley also recommends kombu, which is dried kemp and can be used to make dashi, a Japanese seafood stock. "Home cooks can always throw kombu into their fish or even chicken stock for a little umami flavor," she suggests. Looking for a more wellness-driven approach to algae? Add in a couple of tablespoons of spirulina powder into a smoothie, which is high in protein and rich in minerals.
From reducing the usage of plastic to being more conscious about where our food comes from, sustainable efforts are impacting every aspect of the food industry, due in part to a "huge trend driven by young consumers," says Greg. Even small changes like using a reusable water bottle, stainless-steel meal prep containers, and reusable shopping bags can have a huge global impact. Another change that everyone can adapt is reducing food waste—in 2020, "cook with what you have rather than shopping for a specific recipe all the time," advises Victoria.