If you’re looking to find out what the hot/new trends are in the food world, you need look no further than the countless social feeds chronicling this year’s showing at Expo West. Taking place in sunny Anaheim, California, this enormous natural food and health expo is an absolute must for anyone who is interested in health, sustainability or more generally, straight-up amazing eats.

While many people were in awe of the celebrity showings at the Anaheim Convention Center, including none other than Alicia Silverstone and Channing Tatum, we couldn’t help but notice that these famous faces were hardly the stars of the show. The second we stepped foot into the massive exhibition halls, our highly attuned Green Monster senses noticed there was something magical in the air … and it didn’t take us long to figure out what it was: vegan food!

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There were over 60,000 people and companies in attendance at the Expo, but by and large the whole show was being run by vegan food companies. And why wouldn’t it be?! The focus of Expo West is not only centered around food and health, but sustainability and mission-driven businesses. So where do all of these amazing things collide? You got it, in the vegan food space. We have long said that the fight against climate change starts on our plates, and if this battle is going to be fought with the kinds of products we saw at the Expo, sign us up for permanent duty!

Seriously though, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that livestock production is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while other organizations like the Worldwatch Institute have estimated it could be as much as 51 percent. Not to mention, consumption of animal products is linked to obesity, cancer and other serious illnesses that we could all live without (and CAN thanks to the rising number of plant-based food options out there). It’s time for us to forget all about the convoluted “sustainable” meat trends and get on board with the future of truly sustainable food, vegan noms.

Plant-based eaters not only use a whopping 160 times fewer land resources than meat-eaters, but they also save six times the land resources that people who eat eggs and dairy use. PLUS, one calorie of animal protein requires about 10 times the input of fossil fuel energy than a single calorie of plant protein. And, if we’re going to get into water usage, let’s just say that you can save 162,486 gallons a year just by skipping the burgers, nuggets and bacon. Phew! So, really, if you’re looking to help create a more sustainable food system (and healthier environment), really the best way to go is via the plant-based express.

Luckily, there’s no need to wait around for this future to realize itself because we noticed some pretty strong signs, this future is already here to stay!

1. Plant-Based Meat is Hot

We are well aware that Americans suffer from a very odd, yet highly pervasive fear of not getting enough protein. How else would you explain the “Double Down,” snack packs made entirely of meat and cheese cubes and the fact that “Slim Jims” are still a thing… For years, people thought the only way to get their daily overdose of protein was by consuming entire animals, but the plant-based meat industry is changing that game. Something humans and animals everywhere can celebrate! Peace out animal protein and say hello to these sizzling, plant-based morsels.

Micky D’s goes vegan … and cue simultaneous mind explosions.

5 Signs the Future of Sustainable Food is Vegan, and It's Already Here!

Although we can’t prove that vegan enchiladas give you super powers, they come pretty darn close.

5 Signs the Future of Sustainable Food is Vegan, and It's Already Here!

Think going vegan means saying goodbye to barbecues? You don’t know jack … fruit.

5 Signs the Future of Sustainable Food is Vegan, and It's Already Here!

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2. Vegan Cheese is the New Black

Seriously, anyone who uses the excuse, “I love cheese too much to go vegan,” needs to take a giant bite of Miyokos Creamery’s “Double Cream Chive” and never look back. From plant-based nacho cheese to deli slices to cream cheese and every other form of cheese imaginable (except maybe not spray form, but that’s really in humanity’s best interest), you can find it in a vegan variety. And trust us, after sampling any and every vegan cheese offering out there, we can tell you once you go to the plant side, there ain’t no coming back!

Vegan gouda’s my favorite! *Giggles and bats eyelashes*

5 Signs the Future of Sustainable Food is Vegan, and It's Already Here!

There are few things in life more important than vegan pizza, thank goodness the only thing standing between you and this hot slice is 15 minutes in the oven.

5 Signs the Future of Sustainable Food is Vegan, and It's Already Here!

Thought going vegan meant no more wine and cheese parties? Oh, do think again.

5 Signs the Future of Sustainable Food is Vegan, and It's Already Here!

Okay, okay, back away from the computer screen … you’re getting drool on the keyboard.

5 Signs the Future of Sustainable Food is Vegan, and It's Already Here!

3. Hottest New Natural Snacks Are All Free of Eggs and Dairy

The days of plant-based snacking limited to plain nuts and dried fruit are over! From kale chips flavored with every savory seasoning known to man, irresistible falafel bites, chia pods, and plant-based puddings, the vegan snack game has reached 10 new levels of awesome.

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These chickpeas are ready to party.

5 Signs the Future of Sustainable Food is Vegan, and It's Already Here!

Not only can you get cool-ranch kale chips, but they make brussel sprout chips, parsnip chips, carrot and beet chips … name a vegetable and it can be “chipped.” (Added bonus, all the flavorings are egg and dairy free as well – score!)

5 Signs the Future of Sustainable Food is Vegan, and It's Already Here!

 

4. Nut Milks Take No Prisoners

Almond milk has become quite the staple in the plant-based kitchen, but the rest of the nut world is stepping up and joining in on the plant-based milk fun. Entering the scene is coconut milk and cashew milk, both of which can be enjoyed as a simple beverage … or frozen into one of these amaze-balls ice cream varieties.

Anything a cow can do, plants can do better.

5 Signs the Future of Sustainable Food is Vegan, and It's Already Here!

Seriously, ditch those dairy pints of ice cream and join us here in the light.

5 Signs the Future of Sustainable Food is Vegan, and It's Already Here!

5. High-Powered Energy Comes From the Ground

When you’re looking for a reliable source of energy that will power you through that intense session of weight-lifting or marathon training, where do you turn? If your answer is a protein shake, outfitted with milk, whey powder and any number of animal-based supplements, you might want to start thinking again. (If you’ve even resorted to the cricket/mealworm craze for power bars, we sincerely apologize to your mouth.) Ever wonder where all these creatures get their energy? Well, the answer is plants. So why not skip the step that involves having to industrial animal agriculture and just stick to the source? Chia seeds, hemp seeds, macha, baobab and countless other superfoods can give you the boost of energy you need without all the nonsense you don’t!

We like to call this Seed Lightening.

5 Signs the Future of Sustainable Food is Vegan, and It's Already Here!

Whatchu know ’bout plant-based protein bars?

5 Signs the Future of Sustainable Food is Vegan, and It's Already Here!NewHope360

Seriously, doesn’t this make you want to go on a run?

5 Signs the Future of Sustainable Food is Vegan, and It's Already Here!

Lead image source: The Ultimate Vegan Burger