Lex Manwill, Livermore

With the ‘year of Covid’ barely behind us, we look forward to the New Year and the customary resolutions — reduce personal weight, reduce time on social media, and reduce consumption of animal foods.

Yes, that. Nearly 40% of Americans are already eating more plant-based foods. Hundreds of school, college, and corporate cafeterias have embraced Meatless Monday. Even fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, Carl’s Jr, Chipotle, Denny's, Dunkin’, Starbucks, Subway, Taco Bell, and White Castle offer plant-based options.

Dozens of start-ups, led by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, are producing plant-based meats, milks, cheeses, and ice creams. Every ice cream manufacturer boasts nut-based flavors. Even meat industry giants Tyson Foods, Perdue, Hormel, and Canada's Maple Leaf Foods have rolled out their own plant-based meat products.

The reasons for the skyrocketing popularity of plant-based meat and milk products are compelling. They are more convenient, healthier, more eco-friendly, and more compassionate than their animal-based counterparts. The resolution to explore plant-based foods requires no sweat or deprivation - just some fun visits to our favorite supermarket and food websites.