Speciality Food magazine has listed 17 food and drink trends to watch in 2024, and it predicts that plant-based will go back to its roots and move away from the ultra-processed foods characteristic of fake meats. 

The magazine says, “In 2023 some products aimed at the vegan/vegetarian market disappeared from shelves, as companies failed to pivot and respond to increasing consumer desire to eat ‘real’ food, that’s as minimally processed as possible. Whole Foods Market says retailers wanting to stay ahead of the game should be stocking food that puts the ‘veggie’ back into vegetarian.”

Whole Foods Market, in its 2024 trend predictions, said, “We’re seeing new and emerging protein-forward products with mushrooms, walnuts, tempeh and legumes in place of complex meat alternatives.” 

One of the reasons for this “going back to basics” may be that many vegans have now had enough time to be weaned off the “transitional” foods that thought they needed when began to adopt a plant-based diet, as the longer people have been vegan, the less likely that fake meats may still be part of their diets. Another reason may be the growing interest in healthy food, and the realisation of many vegans that a less processed Whole Food Plant Based diet (WFPB) is far healthier not only than animal-based diets but also than ultra-processed “junk food” diets.

Another reason can be the increased cost of living, as ultra-processed food tends to cost more than simple—but equally delicious and nutritious — plant-based dishes. Dr Jennifer Yule, a lecturer in marketing at the University of Edinburgh Business School, said to The Guardian: “Plant-based convenience products such as meat-free burgers and ready meals have helped ease many consumers into a vegan routine… The modern vegan – forced to endure the cost-of-living crisis and food inflation that is at an all-time high – is cash-strapped and time-poor.” 

Athena Lee., marketing manager of ShelfNow, has also reported a heightened demand for sustainable food brands, saying “Notably, between 2020 and 2023, our platform recorded an average 120% year-on-year increase in sales of products with sustainable packaging,” Less processed vegan food is normally more sustainable, especially if made from local ingredients. 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.