The year 2020 has been an unexpected turn in the past decade. From 2011 all the way up to 2020, we have all witnessed the world grow in environmental awareness. What’s more, so many of us switched to conscious eating. With this, approximately 78 million people worldwide went “plant-based,” as reported by the United Nations in 2020. 

As the decade reached its end, let us go down memory lane and revisit some of the most exciting food trends from 2011 to 2020:

  1. Chickpeas were taken seriously

Chickpeas are a staple source of protein and fiber. But this decade saw chickpeas in every form worldwide, from the usual hummus and chickpea stew to chickpea snacks and desserts. Chickpeas were eaten as salad, sandwiches, and burgers and were also converted into pasta and rice. Even the water that remains after cooking chickpeas, known as aquafaba, was used in place of egg whites due to its viscous nature and egg-like foamy consistency on being beaten. Chickpeas have thus become a trend that is here to stay.

  1. Cauliflower became king

As a versatile vegetable, cauliflower rose through the ranks as an amazing substitute for other high-carbohydrate food such as rice and flour. We now have cauliflower rice, roasted/grilled buffalo cauliflower wings, and even cauliflower pizza base. This new spin on the age-old staple only goes to show that veggies are not only nutritious but also tasty and can be used in versatile ways.

  1. Avocados smashed the records

Sliced, smashed, and stacked, avocados gained tremendous popularity in the 2010s and became a raging food trend. Some made delicious guacamole dips, while some made avocado salads. But the trend that continues to be an obsession among millennials is “avo on toast” or avocado toast, with sliced or smashed avocado on a plain toast or bread with other toppings. 

  1. Plant-based milks became ubiquitous 

Plant-based products became extremely popular in the last decade, with a more than 300% growth in plant-based meat and dairy alternatives reported from 2011-2020. With an increased production of plant-based milks, nut milks such as almond, cashew, soy, coconut, flax, and pea milks along with oat and rice milk revolutionized milk consumption. Plant-based milks are extremely nutritious, prevent lactose intolerance, saves animals and are good for the environment. 

  1. Mock Meat slowly began replacing meat

To consume less meat and prevent animal slaughter, many decided to experiment with mock meat creating treats like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger. Fast food joints such as Taco Bell and Burger King now offer mock meat on their menu. Soy chunks replaced meat, seitan and tempeh became popular as “Facon Bacon,” and jackfruit replaced pulled pork because of their matching texture and protein content providing tasty and juicy, animal-friendly and slaughter-free alternatives. 

  1. Quinoa became the new rice

The star of the popular Buddha Bowls, quinoa has slowly replaced rice because it is gluten-free and has complete protein with all essential amino acids. This versatile pseudo-cereal has become the perfect ingredient for recipes such as burgers, soups, salads, and main courses, and it easily substitutes rice and pasta. 

  1. Spiralized vegetables became the new noodles

Zoodles or Zucchini noodles began a new trend of spiralizing vegetables. From zucchini to carrots, beets, cucumbers, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, all these can now be eaten as noodles using a spiralizer. Furthermore, grating squash with a fork can create spaghetti squash, which a nutritious replacement for spaghetti. 

  1.  Fermented foods and beverages became main-stream

One of the most common food trends of the decade was the consumption of probiotic food and drinks. Fermented foods such as tofu, miso, kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi became popular due to their probiotic content, which promotes gut health. 

  1. Gluten-free flours substituted wheat 

With chickpea, coconut, almond, rice, and oat flours now available, wheat certainly got a run for its money as the de facto flour in kitchens across the world. For those suffering from celiac disease and experiencing uneasiness after eating wheat bread or pasta, gluten-free options became a welcome change. It is safe to say that today, we are spoilt for choice with wheat flour alternatives. 

  1. “Milk” chocolate became dairy-free

Robust dark chocolate bars with a 70%-90% chocolate content were a common choice among those living a plant-based lifestyle. However, many missed the lighter, creamier, and sweeter milk chocolate. To suit a plant-based lifestyle, dairy-free milk chocolate alternatives hit the market and quickly gained popularity. Substituting dairy with nut, coconut or oat milk; this plant-based “milk” chocolate provided the same creamy goodness and satisfaction of traditional milk chocolate. 

These exciting food trends have shown us so many environmentally-, animal-, and human health-friendly alternatives in the last decade. The coming decade will hopefully bring us more sustainable, plant-based, and compassionate food options for all of us to look forward to and enjoy.