Just when it seemed like McDonalds was going to take over the world, and public health in the U.S. was for sure going to the dogs, a food revolution changed everything. Suddenly, people become concerned with what pesticides were getting sprayed on their food, how far away their local farmers were, and how exactly food ended up from a farm to their kitchen table. Food was no longer just about trying out the best restaurants and stocking up on all of your favorite items at the grocery store, suddenly everyone remembered what food was all about at the end of the day: nourishment.

It happened slowly. First, we began taking a closer look at our nutrition labels. Then we started poking around the GMO sphere. Then, in one fell swoop, clean food was in, and processed, chemical-laden food couldn’t be more out. The food system is now a whole different game, with “clean food” reigning supreme. People are looking for products that are gluten-free, paleo, or non-GMO, with only a few ingredients, all of which are recognizable to them. And as is known in the food industry, where the consumer shifts, the producer must follow. And you better believe they are following diligently. According to Euromonitor International, on a global scale, the market for organic, functional allergen-free and better-for-you foods will reach a record $1 trillion in 2017.

People now want their money to go farther with nutritious, filling foods, and are looking at food now as an investment in their health. So what does one looking for “clean food” stumble upon when they go searching for all of the characteristics of clean food at the grocery store? Unsurprisingly, they are being met with vegan options that are free of allergens like dairy, eggs – and increasingly, soy.

Companies who have been attuned to this healthy-eating trend have been producing and synthesizing plant-based proteins for this very reason. And, considering it’s a relatively new trend, they’re having impressive results. Take pea protein, for example. At first mention, pea protein doesn’t sound revolutionary, exciting, or even that appetizing. However, companies are putting their money behind the stuff because of its extraordinary versatility. Who would’ve thought you could make a beef-tastic burger like Beyond Meat’s Beast Burger with pea protein of all things?! Even those who may not want to consume their nutrition in burger form, can get pea protein benefits through protein powders and snacks, a market that has proven to be successful. As people move away from common allergens like dairy, and even soy, the vegan food industry continues to put out viable alternatives that can meet the needs of every consumer. Food makers of all sizes are now getting behind these new consumer trends, knowing that to not do so will ensure falling behind.

“There is a seismic change in what people are eating and want out of their food and beverages,” said Greg Wank, practice leader of accounting firm Anchin, Block & Anchin’s Food and Beverage Industry Group in New York City. “People want more than good taste and their hunger satisfied. They want food and beverages that have some functionality for their bodies and their health.”

We couldn’t agree more. The bridge between body nourishment and the types of food we eat has finally been built, from both a consumer and producer level. As he shared with Yahoo Finance, Wank’s firm has also been seeing a large number of start-ups in the healthier eating and drinking space. In fact, out of approximately 50 of the potential new clients his firm speaks to, Wank shares that “probably 40 are in some kind of healthy food and beverage category.”

Whether it’s food giants like Ben & Jerry’s and Pinnacle Foods or smaller companies like Quorn and Impossible Foods, there seems to be new clean, plant-based, allergen-free products coming out every month. Since they don’t align with this new wave of thinking, meat and dairy have seen a drop-off in consumption, and even foods once regarded as superfoods, like eggs, have been phasing out. There is no doubt about it, the future of food is being constructed before our eyes, and it just happens to be vegan.

Image Source: Tempeh Burger With Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto