The United States’ $6.22 trillion food and drink industry is changing. Gone are the days when head-sized burgers and muffins dotted every menu. In contrast, the pandemic has caused people to opt for healthier, more natural foods – and appreciate the good they do to themselves and the environment. Plant-based meats and milks are everywhere. And tasty foreign dishes (like Malaysian laksa) get the nod over traditional American foods.
From King Oyster mushrooms to vegan cheeses and Vietnamese espressos – here are the food trends you should relish during your visit to America in 2022.
Tasty trends to enjoy on your next visit to America
Scrumptious plant-based meats
We know what you’re thinking: I’d heard this one before. But the plant-loving trend is here to stay and gets stronger every day. Thanks to our post-pandemic food consciousness and supply chain issues bumping up meat prices, more people (even omnivores) are adding plant-based meals into their food routine to support their health, protect animal welfare, help the environment and cut down on their food bill.
This means diary and plant-based meat alternatives fill supermarket aisles. Potato milk (made from diluted potato starches) enters coffee cups. Plant-based pepperoni dots vegan-cheese pizzas. And plant-based burgers, sausages, meatballs, jerky and wins are bought. Don’t believe us? A recent survey reveals that 32% of Americans plan to eat more vegan/plant-based foods in 2022.
The majority of these are likely ‘plant curious’ (eager to eat more meat-free meals for health, ethical or environmental reasons). And others may become flexitarian (follow a a largely vegetarian diet while occasionally eating meat or fish). But no matter how seriously you take vegetables, you’d be foolish not to try one of these tasty plant-based alternatives on your visit to America.
RELATED CONTENT: Where to travel to find the world’s best vegan food
We didn’t predict this one: Americans are obsessed with mushrooms. That’s right, mushrooms are being hailed for their brilliant versatility, health benefits, protein value, and role as a tasty meat alternative. But that’s not all – they’re considered the most sustainable vegetable because they need less growing materials, water, and energy than other crops. All in all – this means people are throwing a few mushrooms into favourite dishes, munching mushroom jerky, and frying King Oyster mushrooms (famed for their meat-like texture) into their own ‘plant-based fried chicken’. So we recommend you lean into mushroom mania during your visit to America. Just trust us.
Malaysian laksa noodle soup
The fiery flavours of Southeast Asia are a big hit this year. A prime example is laksa – a spicy coconut noodle soup from Malaysia (also eaten in Indonesia and Singapore). We’re talking about thick rice noodles floating in a bright orange broth with red chilli oil, often topped with chicken, egg, tofu or/and shrimp. And if you’re new here – believe us when we say your tastebuds will dance across your tongue and call you back 24 hours later for another hot bowl. So what are you waiting for?
GET INSPIRED BY: Food tours with Trafalgar
Forget arabica, robusta coffee is rising
Climate change, high maintenance and rising costs mean arabica coffee production is suffering. Instead, robusta coffee beans (which are more heat tolerant and disease-resistant) are taking centre stage. Robusta is less acidic, less sugary, more caffeinated and more hearty in taste. Full-bodied and delicious. And since robusta beans predominately come from Vietnam, more and more friendly Vietnamese coffee shops are cropping up across America and causing someone’s latest espresso addiction. Yes please.
Jollof rice brings ‘SWICY’ flavour
The perfect dish to fuel your visit to America. Jollof rice is a piping hot, Western African 1-pot dish of long-grain rice, tomatoes, onions, spices, vegetables and meat (fish, lamb, goat meat, chicken, or/and beef). Rocking a sweet taste with subtle spiciness (nicknamed ‘SWICY’), jollof rice is attracting new fans every day in America. Both in and outside the African-American community. Just one forkful will lift your spirits and warm your heart. So if you’re after something uplifting during your visit to America, this dish has your name on it.
Hibiscus is happening
Americans are heading for hibiscus. This colourful plant adds a crimson hue and pleasant earthly flavour to sodas, cocktails, tea, fruit spreads and yoghurt. After long being used in Mexico and West African cultures as a flavour enhancer, hibiscus is happening in America. Here, finally, a willingness to experiment with punchy new ingredients in flavours is making a lot of people happy. So you’ll want to make a note of this before your visit to America.
GET INSPIRED BY: The United States: The complete destination guide
Umami paste has magic powers
Meaning ‘savoury taste’ in Japanese, umami might not seem like a food trend. But Americans this year have realised its magic power to transform dishes with its rich, complex and dynamic flavours. Made from sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, anchovy paste, black olives, porcini mushrooms and parmesan cheese – it adds such tastebud-tingling deliciousness that many people now cannot cook without it. Yum.
Seeds, seeds, seeds!
Seed sales are skyrocketing. For a long time, nuts have been the preferred choice as a healthy, plant-based, protein add on. But now seeds are everywhere – sprinkled on breakfast porridge, toast, butters and ice creams. They’re a great source of fiber, healthy fats and vitamins; and they can help reduce blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. Oh, and don’t forget that delicious crunch. So grab a pack while in the America and sprinkle away, or you grab a taste of them at almost every brunch place.
Planning a visit to America soon? Tell us which food trend excites you most in the comments below.