With Veganuary upon us once again and over 600,000 people expected to take part, it’s safe to say that plant-based diets are here to stay. With an average of 40,500 Google searches for ‘vegan recipes’ each month, more and more of us — from strict vegans to flexitarians — are keen to expand our plant-based palates wherever we can.
But which plant-based foods have got us the most excited? We analysed Google search data for over 100 common vegan meals, ingredients and alternatives to animal products to see what gets us the hungriest. So, if you’re looking for some inspiration this Veganuary, keep reading.
Meat and cheese alternatives, and comfort foods on the rise
Demand for alternatives to animal products soared in 2021 — vegan cheese led the charge with over 18,000 searches per month. Comforting dishes such as vegan chilli and Yorkshire puddings also ranked highly, with 12,100 average monthly searches each.
Alternatives to meat products continue to be a main focus, with vegan sausages, vegan burgers and vegan bacon each getting between 7,000-9,000 average monthly searches, and cauliflower steak recipes getting close to 10,000.
When it comes to vegan foods on the rise, vegan sushi takes the spotlight with a 460% increase in interest during the last year. With more awareness around the impact of overfishing and popular documentaries like Seaspiracy, it’s natural that sushi-lovers are looking for more planet-friendly ways to enjoy their favourite food.
Looking at specific types of vegan cheese, 2021 saw a 456% increase in searches for vegan mozzarella, while searches for vegan cheese sauce climbed by 89%. Cheese-based meals, such as vegan pizza and vegan mac and cheese, also saw their popularity increase, with searches for these dishes rising by 142% and 733% respectively.
Vegan stews and omelettes are also increasingly popular meals, with traditional egg-based dishes becoming more accessible due to egg alternatives like tofu and chickpea flour. And tempeh and jackfruit seem to be the new ingredients on the block, with interest in recipes containing these foods jumping 82% and 70% respectively over the last 12 months.
Chocolate, cake and croissants are firm favourites
It comes as no surprise that vegan chocolate is the most-searched plant-based sweet treat, with a whopping 33,100 average Google searches per month. Next up it’s vegan pancakes — with over 22,000 monthly searches, it shows a plant-based lifestyle doesn’t mean missing out on a breakfast classic (check out our own vegan protein pancakes for a balanced boost).
Vegan banana bread is the most popular at-home bake, likely due to its simplicity and convenience of using standard pantry ingredients. The sweet treat clocks up a hearty 18,100 searches per month and has seen a 12% increase in interest throughout the last year.
Vegan brownies, chocolate cake, cookies and birthday cake also make the top 10 — proof that a plant-based lifestyle isn’t only eating salads. And when it comes to store-bought treats, it seems that vegan-friendly ice cream, marshmallows, Easter eggs and biscuits are all making more of a frequent appearance on our grocery lists.
As the market for vegan foods continues to grow, so does demand. Searches for vegan birthday cake increased by 675% over the year, while croissants (+171%), whipped cream (+130%) and vegan doughnuts (+57%) also saw a rise. While in the past these types of foods might have only been available from specialised vegan bakeries or alternative food shops, they’re now found in our local supermarkets, or can be whipped up easily at home.
How is the vegan foodscape changing?
It’s no secret that interest in vegan foods is higher than it’s ever been — but how is this altering our eating habits?
For those on a plant-based diet, vegan food on the go is much easier to come by than it was just a couple of years ago. Searches for ‘vegan restaurants’ increased by 115% in 2021, while those for ‘vegan food near me’ and ‘vegan bakery’ shot up by 44% and 180% respectively.
Among the sea of recipes geared towards plant-based diets, vegan desserts seem to be the main recipe of choice with 14,500 searches per month, while vegan curry recipes and vegan pasta recipes are the two most popular cuisines, each with 8,100 searches per month.
Take Home Message
With an endless array of dishes and treats able to be made vegan, there’s no excuse not to dive into what plant-based eating has to offer. Whether you’re craving your favourite pizza, an indulgent breakfast or a comforting dinner, there’s bound to be a plant-based dish out there for you, with growth in demand only promising to push the possibilities further.
We analysed Google search data to find the average monthly search volumes of over 100 popular vegan food and recipe search terms, and their variations. We also used Google Trends to find the percentage increase in interest for these terms between December 2020 and December 2021.