Between 2018 and 2020, there were more than 739K online conversations and searches for plant-based and vegan food, making it one of the most popular food-related topics. Recently, we’ve seen a spike in specific types of vegan fare pop onto our always on-trend radar – namely cakes, desserts and sweets. Where does this rise in the popularity of vegan indulgence come from? Let's delve deeper into this online trend and its origins.
Top plant-based topics
Plant-based treats are now the second most discussed patisserie topic online. But what specific vegan delights are people talking about online? For the English-speaking world we can discern the following top treats and flavours:
Chocolate chip cookies
In the Spanish-speaking world we see a slightly different list of ingredients and regional pastry specialties, namely:
Dulce de leche
Online trends in vegan patisserie
There are three major trends we can see in the type of vegan delights people are searching for: gluten-free, cheesecake and ice cream.
Plant-based foods are mentioned remarkably often alongside the terms ‘gluten’ or ‘gluten-free’, especially when it comes to recipes and products with additional health benefits. This makes it interesting to explore combining these two dietary restrictions in the same products. A gluten-free, plant-based chocolate chip cookie may appeal to both audiences.
In both the English- and Spanish-speaking world, we see high volumes of conversations around plant-based cheesecakes. This pastry predominantly consists of dairy products, so people are turning to online communities to find suitable recipes with plant-based dairy substitutes. What is also striking is the number of derivative cheesecake products that pop up, such as vegan cheesecake bites and cheesecake bars, indicating that cheesecake is also a fashionable product.
- Ice cream
With ice cream, plant-based eaters face the same challenges as they do with cheesecake: this product is typically made of almost 100% dairy. This explains why ice cream is frequently discussed alongside plant-based or vegan cuisine. Treats prepared with ice cream, such as ice cream cakes and ice cream sandwiches, are especially sought after in this category.
Feel good food
Vegan indulgences meet several emotional needs that present-day consumers have. They are comforting and are used for both celebration and consolation during emotional ups and downs, just like ‘regular’ sweets. Meanwhile, opting for a vegan cake, dessert or helps to ensure people feel less guilty after eating sweet treats.
During the pandemic, online influencers cleared the way for ‘permissible indulgence’, making consumers comfortable about embracing treats and comfort food as a part of a balanced diet. Plant-based options are considered better for the environment, making consumers feel like they are also doing their part to help reduce their environmental impact.
Many consumers are exploring a plant-based diet as a way to build a healthier lifestyle. In order to find out what they can and cannot eat, newcomers to veganism look online for help. Search volumes for vegan recipes are high, and there are lots of digital communities sharing easy vegan recipes to help others along on their journey. The exchange of information on supermarket and retail products that fit a plant-based diet is important in these circles as well. These conversations contribute greatly to vegan food's high position in online statistics.
Overall, plant-based solutions provide consumers with a healthier body and a healthier conscience. Thinking of introducing vegan patisserie? There are major growth opportunities for plant-based sweets, desserts and treats that offer a ‘low-guilt’ and ‘feel-good’ indulgence.
Focus on the product benefits such as sustainability or local sourcing to tap into that consumer need. Animal and environmental friendliness are topics that matter most. Creating a product that’s not only indulgent and vegan but healthy as well ticks all the boxes. Think of bliss balls, vegan cakes containing ‘hidden’ vegetables or low-sugar cookies made with oats.
Plant-based eating stems from the trend of ethical consumption. For this reason, transparency about the origin of ingredients and methods of production, for example, is very important for vegan brands. Find out how these 10 brands have made transparency part of their brand identity.