Last year led us to pause and reflect, pivoting our priorities around mindful choices – with trends such as sustainable sourcing, an increase in heavy conscious drinking, and the initial move towards sourcing protein alternatives from insects.
With the continued growth of veganism – which plays a part in our well-being and the broader health of the planet, 2021 will be the year the ‘conscious consumer’ becomes mainstream. As Galvin at Window’s Head Chef Marc Hardiman comments, ‘2021 will see not only a continuation of plant-based and health-conscious eating but also more sustainable eating habits and customer interest in provenance’.
Here at Eating In London, we want you to be one step ahead of the game, knowing how and what we will be eating and drinking in 2021 and beyond. That’s why we’ve picked out for you some of the Conscious Consumer key trends for this year, with some added insight from some of our experts.
Distracted by the rapid digital age we live in, many of us were unaware of our well-being pre-lockdown. However, the last year staying at home has led us to revaluate what we consume and how this will feed into our post-pandemic future. Having experienced the positive impacts of leading a slower life, simplicity seems to be the theme for 2021.
Leading with a straightforward and frugal way of living, many of us will continue using honest ingredients with traditional preparation methods. This, in turn, has highlighted the outdated relevance for excess and luxury and how they will apply to the modern well-being of tomorrow.
Samantha Lewis, health & fitness journalist and yoga instructor, leads on to say: ‘the pandemic has forced us all to pause and stop living in fight or flight mode. It’s given us a chance to prioritize basic requirements like sleep and pay attention to our mind and body needs. Self-care has become essential rather than something that was seen as an act of self-indulgence. Mindful practices like yoga, meditation, and spending time in nature have never been more important.’
If you’ve been to a restaurant in the last year, you’ve most likely been asked whether you have any food allergies. As we find ourselves in 2021, this greater awareness will see us welcome a rise of allergen-free food and drink.
Sparked off the back of fatal allergy-related circumstances with some of the UK’s largest hospitality brands, the industry now has a higher level of responsibility. It is sensitive to the fact that there is a clear difference between a ‘diet fad’ and intolerance.
With this in mind, the global allergen-free food market is estimated to surpass the valuation of US$ 31 billion at a 4% higher growth rate than other areas. We need to remember whether these emerging products will be of personal benefit to us, as it is thought that up to 65% of us are likely to choose gluten-free food because we believe it is healthier!
Low & alcohol-free alternatives
Last year saw the drinks sector explode with low & alcohol-free alternatives from a range of products now available on the market and BrewDog, who opened the world’s first low & alcohol-free pub in London earlier this year. With greater awareness of our well-being, many millennials, particularly, are championing a new ‘sober curious’ trend – (AKA leading a teetotal or low alcohol lifestyle).
This new lifestyle approach is challenging our cultural attitudes towards alcohol consumption and how it plays a part not just in our physical state but long-term mental well-being. This was apparent with the newly established ‘stop-over as with ‘dry January.’ Joel Harrison, an award-winning drinks writer, believes: “The low and no sector will continue to grow, as competition increases, and quality of products inevitably goes up. There is a fantastic range of no and low-alcohol beer and spirit alternatives available, full of flavor alow-alcohols for those days off. However, there is nothing quite like a proper gin and tonic at the end of the day!”
Many restaurants across the city already lead with a locally-sourced approach, championing produce from across the UK to illustrate an ethical ethos expected of them.
Following 2020, a year that has seen immense hardship on brands nationally, another dynamic has now come into play with post-pandemic priorities focused more on economic factors. The year ahead will see both industry professionals and consumers being hyper-aware of how they invest their money, supporting brands that contribute to the greater good of our country.
Carlo Scotto, Chef and Owner of Xier & XR in Marylebone notes that ‘locally sourced, seasonal produce will be a real focus. People have loved going to farmer’s markets and independent delis and shops and supporting local, and I think it’s made us all realize exactly what we have on our doorstep, and what we do have is pretty incredible.’
Plant-based & vegan
Vegan and plant-based dining have become the norm across London and many other cities across the world. This will continue to filter through the industry, with those who choose to consume animal products now also gaining an understanding of this previously alien concept.
It was only a matter of time before the supermarkets followed suit and jumped on the vegan bandwagon. Tesco reported a vast increase in plant-based food sales, such as online views increasing on items such as mushroom stroganoff by over 100% and vegan chocolate up to 31%.
Additionally, plant-based proteins and meat alternatives have grown at a surprising rate of 257%, with meat-free foods predicted to grow to more than £1.1bn by 2024. Ruth Mumma, Co-Founder of Rudy’s Vegan Diner & Butcher, adds: ‘We have seen a massive demand for plant-based products this last year.
Since launching our butcher shop in November, the first of its kind in the UK, it has been non-stop. Our online products sold out on the first day, and our new Christmas products sold out in 10 minutes. Online searches for Vegan Christmas have risen by 50%, showing how the appetite for vegan dining has grown massively in just the past year. We are very excited to be at the forefront of plant-based innovation that is happening across the UK and looking forward and spreading the vegan love with our new restaurant places to eat in London, which will be launching in Islington.’
Insects: the protein alternative
Eastern continents have been using insects as a source of protein for generations. They have been, in fact, a standard part of the human diet for thousands of years. As globalization continues to influence us, opening our eyes to alternative ways of eating and drinking that will, in turn, minimize the detrimental human impact we have on the earth – we are very slowly starting to incorporate insects into our everyday diets.
A sustainable source of protein that contributes a minimum amount to greenhouse gases (as opposed to rearing livestock which accounts for 18% globally), 2021 and beyond will start to see restaurants across London slowly turning to insect alternatives. One of London’s chefs, who is subtly already including insects into his menu, is co-founder and head chef Ivan Tisdall-Downes of Native in Covent Garden, who has made a name for himself by sourcing and using ants in his food.
Conscious Consumer is a really important matter for all of us. It plays a vital role in our lives and we should know more about conscious consumers and Why conscious consumer matters.