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December 27, 2019

Well, that was an... interesting year. But what happened on the food and drink front?

Your blogger would love to fill the next few hundred words with frothy but fun food fads - anyone remember cronuts? - and silly season ingredient lists. However, the big stories have been rather more serious.

While hardly breaking news, the biggest story of 2019 was the increasingly rapid rise in the prominence of vegan products and meat-free products.

To be fair, pretty much every bloke and his dog has known about this for the last few years - and we'll doubtless return to the theme when we do our future food trends blogs next week - but a couple of significant events really drove the point home in 2019.

Vegan sausage roll

In October, Wetherspoons introduced a vegan burger to its menu while Greggs made the headlines in January when it launched its vegan sausage roll. Main pic is from Greggs.

The roll-out of the latter was greatly boosted by the ever indignant Piers Morgan helpfully tweeting his disgust.

Far be it from us to say that Wetherspoons and Greggs are not the most cutting edge or woke brands on the high street.

Indeed, thanks to the boss of Wetherspoons being such a strong supporter of Brexit, it would have been less of surprise had they launched a gammon flavour gin rather than a vegan burger.

However, the fact that two such mainstream brands could see the profits in catering to the demand for vegan food underlines the idea that perceptions are very much changing.

Some of this demand is driven by the theories that vegan food is more healthy for the consumer and better for the planet than eating meat.

Regenerative agriculture

As you might imagine, not everyone agrees with either theory.

Leaving aside the health arguments, there has been a backlash against the assumption that eating meat means you couldn't give a monkey's about the environment.

The idea that responsible, ethical meat production is possible has many supporters. Central to their argument are systems of regenerative agriculture. One strand of this is the concept that properly managed grazing cattle can improve soil health.

Regenerative agriculture - you will be hearing that phrase a lot more.

Thunberg Attenborough effect

Environmental concerns have certainly driven changes in the food and drinks industry over the last twelve months.

Especially in the way that food and drink are packaged or served.

Between Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough, the days of the disposable plastic straw or single use water bottle are well and truly numbered.

These days, if you pitch up at the office and you don't have a re-usable coffee cup made from sustainable, panda-friendly bamboo then you risk becoming a social pariah.

The blog will return, briefly, next week with a peek into the future of food in 2020.