Experimenting in the Kitchen: 2020's Top Food Trends

 

Some of the food trends of 2019 should have never come to light in the first place. Whey protein, seaweed, veggie juices, unicorn and mermaid foods, gummy vitamins, and insect ingredients are just a few eccentric examples of those fads. We are happily kissing those food predilections good-bye and welcoming new ones that many of us have already started to embrace wholeheartedly this year.

 

Make Way for 2020 Food Trends

The 2020 forecast for food trends is a nod toward the evolving health and sustainability movements that have become increasingly prominent in just about every industry and niche around the world. Even the normally “unhealthy” fast-food chains are jumping on the bandwagon with some of these concepts. Whether you are cooking meals at home or plan to dine out throughout the year (and, more than likely, according to statistics, it will be the latter), here are the top food trends to keep your eye out for in 2020.

 

Plant-Based Everything

Within the past year or so, fast-food chains and high-end grocers have introduced plant-based, meatless products from companies including Beyond Meat, Inc., Impossible Foods, Inc, and Sweet Earth (Awesome Burger), causing confusion among customers and shoppers alike. Whenever we hear words like “plant-based” and “meatless” we automatically assume that the product will be healthy. But...replicating the taste of beef is not easy when using plant-based ingredients and, even worse, there is no regulation for these types of “healthy” claims on food.

Are these products truly healthy? Do they taste just as yummy as regular burgers? Which one is the best?

Let’s take a look at one example of a plant-based burger that caused a ton of turmoil:

Impossible Burger

Image Source: Daily Mail

The “Impossible Whopper” made its debut in the U.S. ahead of the 2020 plant-based food trend on the fast-food chain menu at Burger King. The first meatless, flame-grilled plant-based protein burgers made by Impossible Foods, Inc. were rolled out to Burger King customers in August of 2019. While one meatless burger costs a dollar more than the original meat-burger Whopper, it contains 90 per cent less cholesterol and 15 per cent less fat, providing customers with what seems to be a healthier choice on the menu. However, if you are counting calories, Impossible only has 30 fewer calories than the standard Whopper, landing it at a total of 630 whopping calories per burger.

Burger King insisted that customers would not be able to tell the difference between the Impossible Whopper and the original Whopper. However, individual reviews around the Internet reveal that there are distinct differences between the two patties. For the most part, reviewers state the obvious: the heme compound of the Impossible Whopper is drier than a regular beefburger Whopper, which, in turn, makes it far less juicy, which is to be expected, considering it is plant-based and not made with meat. It is also less savoury than the meat burger. 

Since the “healthy alternative” on the Burger King menu seemed to be geared toward vegans, the community quickly became indignant about the “100% WHOPPER, 0% BEEF” advertising for the Impossible Whopper for two reasons. Firstly, the burger is grilled on the same broilers as the standard meat Whoppers, which means that meat juice is probably tainting your Impossible Whopper, rendering it un-vegan.

The next problem? Before the Impossible Whopper ever hit stores across the U.S., one chain in Brooklyn, NY advertised that they sold the Impossible Whopper on the online food ordering service, Seamless. Rather than receiving the new, supposedly vegan heme compound burger, customers were sent the regular beef Whopper.

Burger King decided to pass the buck, claiming that since the Impossible Whopper was not yet available to customers in the area, they would send a regular Whopper burger whenever someone ordered the Impossible Whopper and instructed the driver to inform the customer about the change, but many of the drivers did not alert customers. Those who purchased an Impossible during this time claimed that the receipt on the bag even said, “Imposs Whopp,” leading to even more confusion.

Unfortunately, vegan customers are forced to do their research before ordering at fast-food establishments. Since the Impossible Whopper includes mayonnaise on it, it is not vegan, to begin with. If you visit the Burger King website, the tiny words underneath the description of the Impossible Whopper, leading with an asterisk, tell those looking for a meat-less experience: “For guests looking for a meat-free option, a non-broiler method of preparation is available upon request.” 

Burger King is now facing litigation surrounding the Impossible Whopper. U.S. customers complained that Burger King should have to disclose plainly that regular Whoppers and Impossible Whoppers are cooked on the same broilers. The advertising itself seems to be the problem, considering Impossible Foods, Inc. says that they never intended the plant-based burger to be a vegan or vegetarian option, but rather created it for meat-eaters who desired a burger without any animal meat in it. 

Despite these common dilemmas, the plant-based or meat alternative trends are not expected to diminish. In 2020, universities, fine dining, and fast-food establishments around the world will be touting plant-based and meat alternatives, mushrooms, rice and veggie noodles, and new chili peppers on their menus. Clever advertising has caught the eyes of consumers, creating a heightened awareness of these options. 

This awareness has driven the food industry to embrace brand-new menu items with “healthier” selections. According to surveys and forecasting, food experts expect these alternatives to stick around throughout the 2020s and into the 2030s, as well. 

Jaden Smith Water

Image Source: Fast Company

 

Eco-Friendly Packaging

The online food ordering and delivery industries have boomed over the past few decades, and they are going to continue to grow substantially as time goes on. Takeout, drive-thru, curbside, delivery, and food trucks make up 60% of traffic from restaurants and fast food establishments (and with the global impact of the Coronavirus, delivery-friendly possibilities are now the safer options). This is why Eco-friendly packaging is a no-brainer, especially as the world gears toward a more sustainable planet. 

Since Millennials tend to spend more time during their day traveling to and from work and working, there is not a whole lot of time to jam out in the kitchen cooking meals. Most work schedules do not allow for hanging out in a restaurant, either. Research predicts that more and more restaurant customers will consume their foods off-premises, which opens up a need for adequate packaging materials.

These materials must have the ability to maintain food quality and also serve the Eco-friendly packaging interest that has increased as exponentially as our concern for the environment has grown over the past decade. This interest does not necessarily come from the customers solely but rather is often dictated by regulations and legislation created by governments. Whatever way you look at it, the concept of green packaging feels good, both for the customers and the establishments that use them.

To back this up, according to the State of Restaurant Sustainability report, “about half of consumers say that a restaurant's efforts to recycle, donate food or reduce food waste can be factors in where they choose to dine.” That fact alone should be enough reason for a food establishment to consider greener packaging options. Instead of Styrofoam containers, 100% compostable and biodegradable food and deli disposable takeout containers can be used. 

Flatware, food trays, paper cups for hot and cold liquids, and even the sleeves for hot liquid cups and straws can be purchased in biodegradable and compostable materials. So, there is no reason for any food establishment to shy away from this sustainability initiative. Be on the lookout for more environmentally-sound packaging at restaurants and fast-food joints now and in the near future.

 

Zero-Waste Dishes 

Chefs around the world are coming up with inventive ways to produce zero-waste dishes. This means that any leftover scraps, trim, and other items that they would typically throw in the trash can are repurposed, or, at the worst, composted. Going zero-waste does not necessarily mean that at the end of every day, the kitchen results in absolutely no waste, but the outcome is the least amount of waste possible, or to “live less wastefully” each day.

Prepping is a huge part of zero-waste, but designing a zero-waste kitchen requires more thought than simply reducing leftovers. Using zero-waste food storage containers, cleaning supplies, and designing the space in a minimalist manner are other ways to reduce the carbon footprint of any kitchen. 

That also means you do not need all those gimmicky gadgets in your kitchen. Sure, they are fun to play with and use, but do they really reduce your time and effort to get the job done? Probably not. 

It will take some intricate thinking at first, but once the kitchen is reduced down to the level of a minimalist mentality (if you do not need it, do not keep it), and specific habits are formed to re-purpose or compost food items that are leftover from dishes, it will become easier and easier as time goes on to maintain a kitchen that is waste-free and create zero-waste dishes. 

 

Other Food Trends to Keep Your Eye On in 2020

Mushrooms

These might be the ingredient of the year; they might even become more popular than plant-based proteins! It is a versatile ingredient, can be cooked to taste like almost any flavour in the kitchen, and is certainly a healthier choice.

 

Healthy Bowls

Healthy bowls have been around for a long time now, but this year, they will be evolving into healthy kid’s menu choices. That is, of course, if parents can talk their children into trying something new (and healthy) on the menu. Think veggies, flavourful grains, and other healthy combinations mixed inside of a bowl.

 

Vegan Comfort Food

Vegan comfort food will make yucky-sounding vegan choices a thing of the past. No more rabbit food. Think: main dishes that are veggie-centric and vegan versions of dishes like enchiladas, pizza, macaroni and cheese, and fettuccine alfredo. Even those of us who are not vegan will be drooling over the choices.

 

Revamped Classic Cocktails or Mocktails

Revamped classic cocktails or mocktails are basically our favourite cocktails (or non-alcoholic drinks) with a twist. The concept here is for restaurants to attract new customers, so do not be surprised to see some creative concoctions for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage choices on menus this year.

 

Non-Alcoholic Bevs 

Non-alcoholic beverages such as Kombucha (the fermented tea drink) will continue to be the leader in this category. Be brave and check out other beverages like vegetable and fruit milks, agua frescas, and oat milk. Also, water blended with fruit, lime juice, and a tiny bit of sweetener will be on menus in 2020.

 

Ethnic Brekkie

Ethnic breakfast dishes such as Asian island (Indonesian, Filipino, Malaysian, Singaporean), South American, or Indian cuisines that are typically eaten at lunchtime or dinnertime are brought to the breakfast menu.

 

CBD & More

Stress-relieving ingredients, CBD-infused everything, and lifestyle diets will persevere on menus in 2020. We have seen these concepts before, and there is a good chance they are here to stay for a long while, due to the health and mental benefits that they promote.

Captain Kombucha

Image Source: Amazon

 

The Bottom Line For Food Menus in 2020

Healthy eating and earth-friendly options seem to be at the top of the list for food trends this year. Whether your choice to eat healthily is religion-, ethics-, or health-related, it will be welcome and catered to in 2020 with the continuing and emerging food trends. Enjoy the healthier options, but be sure to ask questions and do your research if you are trying to stick to a specific diet.

Sustainability is also high on the priority list for foodies. A zero-waste kitchen, Eco-friendly packaging. As we head further into the future, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the option of delivery with an electric car as we are completing our online food orders.

Tell us, which food trends will you be embracing this year?

Poke Bowl

Image Source: Skinny Taste

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