The Best Food Trends Of 2021

This year is well underway and with the ongoing pandemic, well, still ongoing, a lot of us are continuing to fill our extra time at home by unleashing inventive bursts in the kitchen. Last year may have been all about the whipped coffee and showing off your home baking skills. But this year, it appears self-proclaimed chefs and bartenders are upping their creative games even further, and, in some cases, adopting a more healthy spin on comforting classics. Here's what we found to be trending so far.

First up in our 2021 shopping cart is the healthy cocktail trend. "Consumers are reaching for more alcohol-free spirits, low-calorie alcoholic beverages, and boozy versions of popular healthy beverages ahead of 2021," reports Laurentia Romaniuk, Trend Expert and Senior Product Manager at Instacart. "We've seen sales for trendy alcohol-free spirits boom, increasing by 195 percent year-over-year. Perhaps consumers are looking to turn over a new leaf in 2021 with tasty, guilt-free libations," she muses (via Real Simple).

Veganism is hardly new, but it's still trending

And what would be a perfect pairing to our virgin Bloody Marys and White Claws? Why, a delicious and healthy vegan meal of course. Veganism is hardly new, but with the number of followers this dietary plan is gaining we have to rule that it is in fact trending right now. As of recently, more than 39% of consumers in the U.S. are purchasing an increased amount of vegan food options (per Health Careers).

A sudden increase of vegans, or at least vegan-inspired meals, can have a lot to do with the rise of mental health concerns. In addition, it could be simply because a lot of us have easier access than ever before to plant-based food options (via Cozymeal).

Traveling through our food choices

Our current obsession to switch to healthier options runs parallel with our sometimes overwhelming need to shake up the ordinary. As we pass the mark of 365 days with noticeably less travel, many consumers are choosing to live out their cancelled exotic vacation plans through their food choices. Our longing to hit the streets of Tokyo and unwind on the beaches of Greece has started to play a heavy influence on our food choices.

Japanese, Greek, Thai, Latin other than Mexican, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Korean were among the most eaten foreign cuisines in the last months of 2020, and restless consumers are continuing on with that trend. One-third of shoppers are still proactive in finding and enjoying new global foods and/or flavors in 2021 (via IFT).

Consumers are leaning more toward functional foods

To cap off the growing interest in healthier food choices, consumers are putting their immune systems and personal goals at the forefront of their minds when they plan their weekly meals. "The pandemic only escalated consumer interest in functional foods, and the focus on specific nutritional benefits of food and beverage is here to stay," says Miriam Aniel, Head of Content and Research at Tastewise. Adding that, "In 2021, we expect to see consumers crave 'curated' nutrition-packed meals that use specific ingredients to achieve individualized goals" (via Real Simple).

So there we have it. A new year and what appears to be a renewed focus on health. We look forward to seeing if this trend is here to stay!