To know its impact on our bodies and the environment, consumers are increasingly concerned with where their meals came from. To know its impact on our bodies and the environment, consumers are increasingly concerned with where their meals came from. To know its impact on our bodies and the environment, consumers are increasingly concerned with where their meals came from. (Photo: Prostock-Studio/Shutterstock)

Food trends in 2020: If it's not sustainable, you're not eating it

A new Tastewise report shows that more than ever, consumers are concerned about the impact their food has on the environment.

What journey did your food take before it landed on your plate? That's the No. 1 food-related question we're asking in 2020, according to a new report from Israel-based food trend analytics startup Tastewise.

The word of the year, the report says, is sustainability. How our food affects the health of the planet, as well as our own bodies, plays a much larger role in what we choose to eat than ever before. Tastewise's data shows that 23% more consumers prioritize sustainable food choices today than a year ago.

This young woman eating a salad would feel right at home expensing a meal at WeWork. Health and environmental factors affect consumers' dietary decisions now more than ever. (Photo: Ross Helen)

To compile its data, the Tel Aviv-based company analyzed billions of social media interactions, more than 3 million online recipes, and the menus of about 274,000 restaurants.

A key finding in Tastewise's data is the rise of veganism. The plant-based diet is the most common one among sustainable eaters. This is motivated primarily by their concern for their physical health, and secondarily, by links between meat production and environmental impact.

The restaurant industry reflects this trend, and there's no greater example of its prevalence than in the state of California, where 22% of the country's restaurants that serve sustainably sourced food are found.

The Original Herbivore vegan food truck serves customers at the Tanaka Farms Plant Fest Vegan Festival, in Irvine, Calif. The Original Herbivore vegan food truck serves customers at the Tanaka Farms Plant Fest Vegan Festival, in Irvine, Calif. (Photo: Steve Bruckmann/Shutterstock)

In addition to veganism, the report also looked at another prominent lifestyle trend: the keto diet. These eaters still choose meat in pretty large numbers, but a growing association between veganism and sustainability influences even the traditionally meat-heavy keto folks. Vegan options are top of mind for sustainability-focused keto conversations, as some consumers look beyond animal products for items rich in fat and protein.

The restaurant's signature vegan cauliflower soup has a creamy texture but contains no dairy. The vegan cauliflower soup at Rooster, a restaurant in Philadelphia, has a creamy texture but contains no dairy. (Photo: Zach Pontz)

However, most stick with what they know, turning to sustainable meat options like grass-fed beef. It might be why you're seeing more sustainable meat options, and protein-rich, low-carb, plant-based products available for keto dieters.

“Sustainability is an issue that’s increasingly important across food categories and markets,” said Alon Chen, Tastewise's co-founder and CEO. “If a menu or a product doesn't offer sustainable seafood, it’s time to catch up to consumers’ heightened culinary consciousness.”

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Food trends in 2020: If it's not sustainable, you're not eating it
A new Tastewise report shows that more than ever, consumers are concerned about the impact their food has on the environment.