5 Trends in Plant-Based Eating
Food and diet trends come and go, but some are here to stay. Over the past decade, plant-based eating programs have steadily gained popularity, a lifestyle shift that’s expected to continue unabated.
Within the broad classification of plant-based diets, several distinct movements have developed significant followings and are according to some experts poised to become the dominant trends for the foreseeable future. Let’s take a look at five examples:
- Clean eaters. Real food that’s as natural, whole and minimally processed as possible is at the heart of the growing clean eating movement. Aficionados avoid foods with refined flours, processed fats and artificial flavors, sweeteners, coloring agents and preservatives. Devoted practitioners also shun GMO or genetically modified foods and reject factory-style agricultural products produced with chemical-intensive processes such as antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides and fertilizers.
- Fermentarians. This trend has grown slowly, but it’s picking up steam. Fermentation extends shelf life, adds microbes that aid digestion, and boosts the nutritional value of many fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Some fermentarians eat only plant foods while others embrace anything fermented including cider vinegar, countless condiments, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, miso, pickles, sauerkraut and yogurt.
- Flexitarian foodies. Flexitarian is a new term for those who like meals seasoned with herbs and spices rather than angst and guilt. Primarily vegetarian, flexitarians consume meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy without remorse or recrimination when the desire strikes. Healthy, balanced and infinitely adaptable, this concept is gaining popularity, and several recent diet roundups rate the flexitarian strategy as one of the healthiest eating trends.
- Part-time plantarians. This burgeoning category encompasses everyone from top celebrities to the family next door. What they have in common is a part-time commitment to plant-based regimens from vegetarianism and veganism to raw foods. People embrace this approach for varied reasons: As a physical and spiritual cleanse, a healthy way to start the New Year (“Veganuary”), a time-limited way to explore the foods and lifestyle, and/or reduce their carbon footprint.
- Meatless meal makers. This concept isn’t new. During World War I, Herbert Hoover, director of the US Food Administration, opted to launch voluntary Meatless Tuesdays (and Wheatless Wednesdays) rather than ration these foods. His efforts were so successful 11 million Americans signed the meatless-and-wheatless pledge in a single month. Fast forward to today, and the trend is resurging as an estimated 100 million Americans strive to integrate at least one meatless dinner into their weekly meal plan.
Numerous other plant-based programs such as the Asian, Mediterranean and Ornish diets continue to attract medical attention and devoted followers. One thing is clear: If you’re boosting your plant-based food intake and minimizing meat, dairy and saturated fats, you’re part of a prevailing trend to pursue a healthier lifestyle centered on plant-based eating.