Published by Justin Lessner.

2016 is officially #TheYearOfVegan, and these top food trends prove that a new era in food is upon us as more people avoid animal-derived ingredients, which are cruelly produced, unhealthy, and environmentally devastating.

Seaweed

Kale is “out,” and seaweed is “in.” Kale has been extremely popular for years, but now many call seaweed the new go-to superfood. Not only is it environmentally friendly and plentiful, seaweed is also packed with fiber, antioxidants, iodine, and good fats, making it the new darling of the health world. And according to a leading restaurant agency, seaweed is “set to explode thanks to its sustainability angle and umami appeal.”

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Meal-Delivery Services

Ordering from your favorite restaurants is so last year. In 2017, look for companies that partner with top chefs, celebrities, or brands to prepare vegan meals exclusively for delivery service. Plant-based company Beyond Meat now partners with Chef’d, and superstar Beyoncé is championing the 22 Days Nutrition plan—meaning it’s easier than ever to have cruelty-free vegan food delivered to your door.

Carrot Lox

To avoid the risk of toxins and even mercury poisoning while sparing the lives of fish and many other animals caught or killed as “by-catch,” employ perhaps the world’s most humble vegetable: the carrot. Serve this at your next brunch, and you’ll be known as a true trendsetter.

Fermented Foods

The funky, earthy flavors of fermentation will be big this year. In addition to lending dishes a unique, acidic flavor, fermented foods hugely benefit the health of your digestive tract. To get in on this hot trend, try replacing your tofu with tempeh, snacking on kimchi, enjoying a bottle of refreshing kombucha, or adding flavor to your cooking with miso paste. And remember: Sauerkraut is sexy!

Everything Fries

French fries are already a top snack among … well, anybody who eats food. But chefs everywhere are turning all sorts of things into fries. Sweet potato fries are already ubiquitous, but you’ll definitely be seeing avocado, taro, portobello mushroom, polenta, and even banana fries. The possibilities are truly endless!

Maca Powder

This trendy food is apparently used as an aphrodisiac and to improve fertility in both men and women. But in 2017, expect to see it mixed into juices and smoothies, adding a potent mix of healthful nutrients, as the root is high in protein, iodine, calcium, and potassium.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast, affectionately called “nooch” by those in the know, is a magical substance that’s going “mainstream.” High in protein, these golden flakes impart a cheesy, savory flavor in all manner of dishes—mac ‘n’ “cheese,” potatoes, pasta, pesto, and even popcorn.

Jackfruit

Exotic fruits in general are going to be big in 2016, but king among them is the jackfruit. This highly versatile fruit has the texture of pulled pork or carnitas and is a go-to vegan-meat option. When shopping, be sure to skip the sugar overload by buying jackfruit brined in water—not syrup.

Aquafaba

Also know as bean juice, this is the same liquid inside a can of beans that most people pour down the drain. But did you know it’s an excellent resource for whipping up a “merengue,” baking some French macarons, and even making ice cream?

Overnight Oats

Overnight oats are hot right now and will be even bigger in 2017 as more and more people get turned on to the simplicity and deliciousness of this convenient breakfast dish. Simply throw some oats, your favorite toppings, and some vegan milk in a mason jar and refrigerate overnight. Done. Plus, they’re totally Instagram-worthy.

‘Zoodles’

Chefs are experimenting with vegetable spirals—zucchini, asparagus, beet, sweet potato, and others—to replace traditional carb-heavy pasta. Carbaholics may not be celebrating this trend, but spiralizer manufacturers certainly are.

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Plant-Based Bacon

There’s nothing new about America’s obsession with bacon. But hot new vegan options are popping up all over the place—even in trendy New York City restaurants. Get in on the trend by making your own DIY bacon out of mushrooms, carrots, or even coconut. Or check out some of these brands at your local market.

Smoothie Bowls

Listen, juice bars: You had a good run, but there’s a new health food in town—smoothie bowls. Haven’t seen one? It’s basically a big-bowl smoothie made from frozen açaí or dragon fruit pulp, soy or other vegan milk, and bananas, bits of other fruit, and lots of ice. Toppings include granola, chia seeds, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, and peanut butter. Keep an eye out for a smoothie bowl near you!

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Root-to-Stem Dining

A logical, healthful, and compassionate alternative to the so-called “nose-to-tail” movement, this trend promotes full use of produce, maximizing each and every dish’s nutritional value. Think grilled carrots with braised carrot tops or sautéed broccoli crowns with steamed broccoli stalks. Don’t let anything go to waste to be on point with this smart trend.

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Vegan Eggs

The egg industry is about to crack wide open. Vegan egg options are everywhere and evolving faster than ever. Thanks to brands like Follow Your Heart, more and more chickens are being spared the cruelty inherent in the egg industry.

Cashew Cheese

Vegan cheeses have been around for a while now. Not only are they going mainstream, they’ve also been elevated to gourmet status with the addition of cashew.

These popular food options in 2017 are more than just trends. Increasing numbers of people are choosing plant-based lifestyles, meaning there are more opportunities than ever to help animals and make 2017 #TheYearOfVegan.

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