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Sustainable Lifestyle on the Menu

Following a year where so much focus was placed on the rising cost of food, consumers are expected to be more conscious and mindful of what they’re putting into their bodies in 2023. Living a sustainable lifestyle is at the top of the list of food trends this year as more Americans are not only eating with their own health in mind but they are conscious of the health of the planet as well.

Eco-conscious eating, foods that boost brainpower, cultured meats, and functional foods are just some of the food trends that restaurants should consider adding to their menu in 2023.

8 Trends to Expect in 2023

1. Eco-Conscious Eating

More Americans are not only eating with their own health in mind but they are conscious of the health of the planet as well. Climatarian diets are on the rise as people embrace sustainability at the supermarket. Introduced by a nonprofit organization, the climatarian diet favors plant-based foods that have the least impact on the environment.

According to a recent survey, while more and more Americans say they follow a plant-based diet, more than half would be willing to eat more of them if they knew more about the environmental effects of their food choices.

Another trend in eco-conscious eating is the regenerative diet which involves not just eating healthfully and sustainably, but actually helping to restore the ecosystem by supporting practices like regenerative agriculture and reusing or upcycled parts of foods previously discarded in the manufacturing process. One example is Reveal, a brand that makes a prebiotic-rich drink made from discarded avocado pits.

2. Cultured Meat

In 2022, the (FDA) okayed the first sale of cultured meat, which takes a small number of cells from living animals and grows them in a controlled environment to create food made from cultured animal cells. This will enable food developers to use cells obtained from livestock, poultry, seafood, or other animals in the production of food. While the product still needs to receive clearance from the USDA before it can be sold, it appears likely that will happen in the coming year.

With lab-grown meat, producers extract cells from an animal, then grow meat from those cells. Biologically, it’s the same as animal meat, but no animals need to be killed. Not only could this reduce the carbon footprint of meat consumption because it doesn’t produce methane gas like grazing animals do, but it is also less likely to spread foodborne illnesses.

3. Plant-Based Options

Speaking of meat, you’re likely to see even less of it in 2023 as more and more consumers are choosing to consume less meat. Interest in healthy alternatives is expected to be higher than ever, with sales of plant-based foods growing three times faster than any other food category.

In the plant-based meat category, burgers are the most popular, but manufacturers are introducing more sausage and chicken products. Plant-based seafood is a small but growing part of the market, including the first frozen vegan sushi and onigiri.

You can also expect to see more replacements for other animal-based foods including dairy and eggs. Products like Zero Egg offer options for vegans and people with allergies. Starbucks is adding Just Eggs, another vegan egg replacement, to their menu in 2023.

4. Produce-Based Packaged Alternatives

The emphasis on plant-based eating hasn’t only spawned more meat alternatives, but it’s also inspiring new ways to incorporate vegetables into diets as people are realizing that they can welcome more plants to their plates without going all vegan or vegetarian.

Packaged foods are jumping on the plant train by incorporating fruits, vegetables, and legumes into pantry staples like pasta made from chickpeas, lentils, edamame, spaghetti squash, green bananas, and hearts of palm. These products allow those on low-carb or gluten-free diets or with food sensitivities to enjoy pasta.

5. Functional Foods

An interest in functional feel-good foods that help fight depression, ward off dementia, increase immunities, and support brain health is expected to skyrocket in 2023.

A rise in brain-boosting foods and drinks that contain caffeine, magnesium, B vitamins, and zinc and foods with omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have been shown to improve symptoms of mood disorders, is expected.

Natural nootropics, substances that claim to enhance cognitive functioning, such as L-theanine in green tea, ginseng, lion’s mane mushroom, and Ginkgo Biloba are gaining in popularity as well.

6. Dampening Spirits

According to a recent Gallup report that found that only 60% of U.S. adults consume alcohol, down from 65% in 2019, and those that do are drinking less, especially through Dry January.

People are looking for ways to celebrate and have fun without drinking. One reason for the dampening of the spirits’ consumption is weight and health consciousness. Non-alcoholic wines have a caloric content of approximately 10 calories per glass, while most wines pack about 120 calories. Restaurants that add mocktails and alcohol-free spirits, beers, and wines can attract a brand-new customer base.

7. Gut Health

People are increasingly interested in caring for their gut health, turning to foods containing probiotics, including yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, fermented cheeses, tempeh, miso, kombucha, and pickled vegetables.

8. Make-it-Your-Way Foods

In a recently published report on the top food delivery orders in 2022, topping the list were handheld foods such as burritos, quesadillas, pizza, and sushi rolls. In an era when staying in is cooler than going out and convenience remains king, make-it-your-way, easy-to-handle dishes are expected to rise in demand for food delivery and take-out in 2023.

Items like Mexican sushi; sushi donuts, burgers, tacos; and customizable rolls are becoming increasingly popular as consumers seek ways to eliminate certain ingredients and add others to their diets for sustainability and health reasons.

See our upcoming post, Like White on Rice: Why Sushi is On a Roll With Restaurant Delivery for more information on trends in restaurant delivery.

Take away

While consumers increasingly demand healthy choices on the menu, a restaurant’s sustainability efforts are becoming increasingly paramount.

While the industry continues to move towards being as eco-conscious as possible, restaurants that make immediate changes to add health and sustainability to their menus and delivery operations will appeal to consumers and increase profits.

Reducing food waste, being transparent about sustainable practices, and switching to greener packaging are just some ways to make changes in the coming year.

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By Eileen Strauss


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