Plant-based. Protecting our health and the planet.

This post is the second in this series on the future of food. 2021 Food & Drinks Trends. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you to go ahead and read 2021 Food & Drinks Trends. Health and Well-being and then come back here to follow the discussion.

The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables. The aims are “raising awareness on the nutritional and health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption,reducing losses and waste in fruits and vegetables food systems, and sharing best practices”, assuring that everyone has access to fruit and vegetables, as explained by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

During the virtual launch event, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu emphasised that “in the current health crisis we are facing around the world, promoting healthy diets to strengthen our immune systems is especially appropriate“.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become urgent to transform and rebalance the way our food is produced and consumed. The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables is an opportunity to improve agricultural infrastructure and practices, thereby supporting small-scale farmers.

Following the outbreak of the pandemic, the organisation of short circuits of production and consumption is accelerating.
Here in the Paris region, a network of proximity producers has been organised, which can be consulted on the Fermes d’île de France website. Similar initiatives are multiplying in France and beyond.

Plant-based market

The plant-based versions of almost every kind of food are already out there, from meat substitutes to crème desserts. But innovation has no limits, particularly for the development of new products from vegetal protein as meatless products.

The food industry is riding the plant-based wave. According to Meticulous Research “Plant Based Food Market” report, the plant-based food market is expected to grow to reach $74.2 billion by 2027.

Polaris Market Research new report shows that, alone the global plant-based meat market is set to reach over US$35 billion by 2027, with a 15.8% annual growth rate.

Indeed, there are good perspectives for the plant-based food industry.

In France, the bill “on the transparency of information on food products” was finally adopted on May 27, 2020 in the National Assembly. This text prohibits the use of animal names (steak, filet, sausage …) to plant products.

Despite this, the supply of vegetal meat is increasing on supermarket shelves.


Pulses are particularly interesting because they have the combined advantage of being good for human health and for the planet. They are source of vegetal protein that can substitute animal products, which contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Pulses have the great potential for health and the environment, but there are still obstacles to a wide consumption of legumes due to long preparation times and digestibility. In France, INRAE (Institut national de la recherche agronomique) is working on the selection of leguminous varieties which require short preparation times and with higher digestibility.

The new plant-based trends spread fast through the social networks, like aquafaba (chickpea cooking water), used to replace egg white in vegan recipes; or red beans in French molten chocolate cake, used to add texture, while avoiding the use of eggs; and most recent one: sweet humus for dessert.

Plant-based food and climate change

Livestock breeding is responsible for 14.5 percent of all Greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activities, which is as much as the transport sector. Switching to a plant-based diet would benefit human health and the environment. However, despite the recent Peoples’ Climate Vote survey, conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the University of Oxford, has shown that “sixty-four percent of people believe climate change is a global emergency, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”, “the promotion of plant-based diets struggled to get majority support in any of the countries surveyed.”

Conclusions for Plant-based food and drinks trend

There is a growing demand and offer of plant-based food, particularly of meatless products. More educational resources are needed to guide consumers in their food choices, explaining the context and benefits.

In this sense, COVID-19 may be an opportunity to fill the gap between producers and consumers.

Bibliography Global Plant-Based Meat Market To Be Worth US$35 Billion By 2027 Due To Rising Health Concerns.

Food Navigator, Plant-based diets the ‘least favoured solution to climate change’, according to UN poll, January 2021.

Attwood S, Hajat C. How will the COVID-19 pandemic shape the future of meat consumption? Public Health Nutr. 2020 Dec;23(17):3116-3120. doi: 10.1017/S136898002000316X. Epub 2020 Aug 12. PMID: 32782062; PMCID: PMC7533480.


INRAE – Etude sur les freins et leviers à l’insertion des légumineuses à graines en France.

The next trend we are going to discuss, is “Sustainability”. Stay tuned and follow me on LinkedIn for news and updates.

Need a more detailed analysis on food and beverage trends? Want to develop educational tools to guide consumers? Contact me.

Published by Valentina

Hi, I’m Valentina. I’m a communication strategy consultant and culture bridge. Passionate about plant-based food, I share inspiration from the cultures I know best: Italian, French and Chinese ones.