The Future is Plant-Based

By Cristina Ng 2021-12-28 17:33:41

2022 vegan food trends.

The vegan food industry in China had a moment in 2021. From plant-based menu items at international mainstream chains such as KFC and Starbucks to local brands such as Zrou, Zhen Meat, and Omnipork showing up on restaurants nationwide, interest in the vegan lifestyle is growing. We expect even more developments in 2022. Whether you are looking for a dietary change or just veg-curious, check out these vegan food trends in the coming year.


1. Vegetables Take Center Stage

That’s right, the concept behind Carrot & Cleaver from vegan restaurateur Vivian Chang (MissGreen) reimagines a butchery - but with vegetables. Health and sustainability are core values here. Plus, the nutritious menu has lots of exciting options. Assemble a DIY meal with your choice of veggie ‘cold cut,’ whole food plant-based protein, dressing, and fermented vegetable (think kombucha carrots or cauliflower cheese). Or jazz up an a la carte selection with house-made nut and seed oils - all created with a zero-waste sensibility.


2. Vegan Events for Everyone

Homegrown plant-based meat purveyors Zrou sponsored its 2nd Annual Chili Cook-Off in 2021. The event takes the traditional chili cook-off and requires contestants to prepare plant-based versions. Past contestants include Cages, Tacolicious, Cantina Agave, Pistolera, and more. On the flipside, Bubba’s 16th Annual Shanghai Chili Cookoff - a very meat-heavy affair - had one vegan chili entry from MissGreen. Additionally, popular food festivals such as FEAST and Destination Paradise had vegan food options this year. What’s hot about entertaining events like this is that they draw in mixed crowds to enjoy food that happens to be plant-based. In addition to the 3rd Annual Chili Cook-Off, we anticipate many more vegan food events in the future.


3. Vegan Home Deliveries on the Rise

More and more restaurants are adding vegan food options to their menus, which means you don’t have to cook your food to maintain a plant-based lifestyle. There’s also a growing number of delivery-only services catering to this market like Dessert Revolution for baked goods, 70/30 for healthy lunches, and Green Kitchen for both meals and treats.

Abi Franklin started Green Kitchen in 2020 as a vegan bakery. Now she offers meals to show people that “vegan doesn’t mean boring or bland - you can still enjoy your favorite dishes and comfort foods while being kinder to the planet and everything in it.” You will taste her passion if you try Green Kitchen's best-selling Peanut Butter and Chocolate Brownies! Order by adding Green Kitchen on WeChat (WeChat ID: GreenKitchenSH).



4. Plant-Based Meat Goes Mainstream

In 2021, local plant-based meat players such as Zhenmeat, Omnipork, Starfield, Hey Maet, HEROTEIN, Haofood, and Zrou made lots of noise. The latter’s parent company YouKuai made big news in May 2021 for closing $7.3 million in Series A funding. Safe to say, you can expect them and their competitors to continue making moves to attract a health- and environmental-conscious customer base. But, the big news will be when these products go mainstream and everyone is eating alternative proteins. Imagine a China where all your favorite restaurants offer alternative proteins alongside beef, chicken, pork, and seafood - and even carnivores order those dishes because they sound delicious. With everyone from Michelin-starred restaurants like Canton Table to fast food joints like KFC offering plant-based meat on menus, the future is coming.


5. Alternative Seafood is a Game-Changer

Hong Kong’s Green Monday Group has moved into the alternative seafood business with six new OmniSeafood joining its plant-based lineup. That means that you can enjoy seafood dishes without playing a role in diminishing ocean fish populations or adding to environmental abuses of the commercial fishing industry. In addition to appealing to vegans, this launch comes just in time for meat-eaters and flexitarians who have been wary of seafood after watching the popular documentary Seaspiracy. You can buy the classic fillet, golden fillet, ocean burger, OmniSalmon, OmniTuna, and crab cakes at Green Common. And with Green Monday poised to open more Green Common locations next year, OmniSeafood is bound to make an impact.



6. Cultivated Meat is Coming

Where plant-based meat seeks to recreate the taste and texture of meat with vegetables and beans, cell-cultured meats use actual animal cells to produce meat in a laboratory. While not strictly vegan, cell-based meats have a lower environmental impact and don't require butchering a live animal. In September 2021, Shanghai-based food tech CellX debuted its cell-based pork and closed a $4.3 million round of funding. Nanjing-based Joes Future Food secured $10.9 million in its Series A round soon after in October 2021. Another Chinese company HEROTEIN also hopes to be the first to sell hybrid plant- and cultivated meat products in China through a strategic partnership with US-based Mission Barns. While still awaiting regulatory approval for cell-based meats in China, recent disruptions to the pork industry due to COVID-19 and African swine fever have led to government support for the idea.