Vegetables, grains, fruit, and nuts are no longer ingredients for side dishes and snacks. They are becoming the main meal in thousands of different combinations and creations. Where flavor was something that was prepared for meat before grilling, it is now an art form to make vegetable meals taste amazing for even those who shun the site of green on their plates. Dairy and eggs are no longer essential ingredients in baking, as more natural ways to make cupcakes, cookies, and pies have been established and perfected. Raw desserts are just as good as their baked counterparts.
The definitions of food are rapidly changing. While original methods to replace meat were to substitute vegetable look-a-likes, such as black bean burgers, faux chicken wings, and crispy tofu bacon, now new types of meals are arising that leave meat-based comfort food behind with new inventions by ingenious and compassionate chefs and home cooks.
Even how we eat is transforming with smaller portions, less salt, sugars, and fat, and new foods for snacking in between meals such as kale chips, roasted seaweed, and more fruit. With less meat comes less need for the use of knives and greater combinations of easy-to-consume and digest foods on the plate. The concept of condiments is changing, too, as hummus or avocado replace mayonnaise and dairy-based sauces on sandwiches.
Alternative protein sources beyond soy are gaining ground such as quinoa, pea protein, garbanzos, rice protein, and lentils among others making it easier to integrate protein into meals without having it dominate the dish. The identification of life balancing foods has also sped the evolution of recipes as anti-inflammatory, probiotic, prebiotic, detox, anti-oxidant, fiber-rich, brain-boosting, skin healing, and anti-aging ingredients are demanded as important elements of every meal. It’s hard to include these benefits in a hamburger, but they can be easily combined in vegan stews, soups, and salads and be just as filling.
The need to combat chronic illness and obesity by avoiding the traditional American diet is becoming widely accepted spurring more people to try alternative ways of eating with some being healed from the most pernicious diseases simply by adopting a vegan diet. The consumption of red meat has declined several years in a row as evidence.
Lastly, we are seeing the initial growth of vegetarian and vegan communities with schools, apartments building, grocery stores, and clothing stores going meat and cruelty free. Although they are not concentrated in any particular area, eventually they will aggregate within urban areas leading to new lifestyles which will evolve and develop in a myriad of manifestations.
The warmth and glow of these changes is affecting diet, cooking, and lifestyles in wonderful ways. Even if you missed the rise of this sun, you can still bask in its benevolent rays for years to come!