What’s on the vegan menu for 2019?

Over the past few years, veganism in South Africa has been growing and, as we move towards 2020, it’s clear that more companies are capitalising on the popularity of this trend.

It’s no longer just a dietary trend – it’s increasingly obvious that a shift towards a plant-based diet is necessary if we want to avert the worst effects of climate change.

“If we want to create a more sustainable society, we need to rethink our entire food system – and the good news is that every day, more people get on board with this lifestyle,” said Sven Fautley, the Western Cape head of The Vegan Society of South Africa.

So, what’s on the vegan menu for 2019? Get ready to have some new plant-based favourites by the end of the year – brands are getting creative and it’s clear that veganism is about compassion and innovation, not restriction.

Oat milk

Oat milk is slowly becoming a favourite of baristas and the general public are catching on to this trend. It tastes so delicious in coffee and, while it can be pricey at coffee shops, it is cheap and easy to make in your own kitchen. “If you would rather go the DIY route for plant milks than purchasing them at the store, oat milk is the obvious choice,” advised Fautley.

Oat milk has a natural sweetness, without adding any refined sugar, and it’s thick and creamy – expect to see it in coffee shops and grocery stores everywhere this year. Bonus: as it gets more popular, the price will probably start to drop, too.

Plant-based seafood substitutes

We’ve got plenty of faux chicken, burgers and even bacon, but when it comes to plant-based fake seafood, the options have been lagging behind. Fautley said: “With an increasing awareness of issues like overfishing, more people are opting to leave seafood behind in the past, and the demand for plant-based alternatives is going up”.

In 2019, we’ve seen more vegan versions of seafood dishes hit grocery store shelves and pop up on restaurant menus. Brands are putting out more vegan shrimp, tuna, crab cakes, fish fillets substitutes and even choices like vegan fake smoked salmon. This is an area for brands to get creative.

Low-carb options

Sure, it can seem like keto dieters have little overlap with the vegan, but there are plenty of vegans who prefer a low-carb diet – or at the very least, who are trying to incorporate more healthy fats into their meals.

“It seems like the days of fat being demonised are far behind us, and people are more concerned with getting a solid balance of fat, protein and carbs through whole foods, than avoiding any particular macronutrients,” said Fautley.

“Expect to see more companies putting out low-carb, plant based snacks to satisfy the vegan keto niche and appeal to people on low-carb diets who are trying to transition to a more ethical way of eating.”

Vegan fast food

If you’ve turned to veganism for health reasons, you might not be too interested in trying out any vegan fast food options – but for those of you who came to this lifestyle because of ethical or environmental concerns, it could be fun to indulge once in a while.

“Vegan fast food may not fit into a whole foods, plant-based diet, but this is actually a welcome development,” said Fautley.

Many people hesitate to go vegan because they think that it’s going to be too inconvenient and people who travel often are especially likely to have these concerns. “But when affordable chains are offering quick, tasty vegan meals, it shows people that veganism does not have to be restrictive,” said Fautley.

Mushroom-based snacks

Mushrooms have a natural savoury flavor, which makes them the perfect choice for people who recently converted to veganism and are seeking plant-based alternatives to their old favourite foods. 

Mushrooms are such a versatile food they can be a pizza topping, you can toss them into a pasta dish, you can bake them into a casserole, you can put them on top of a veggie burger or you can turn them into a veggie burger – the list is long. 

In 2019, expect to see companies use mushrooms to create tasty snacks like vegan “pork rinds” and “bacon chips”. They’re going to be all over the snack aisle.

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