Healthy Hedonism: Three eye-catching menu ideas for Gen Z

With Gen Z increasingly seeking visually striking yet health-conscious, sustainable food options, we outline three ways UK restaurants can tap into the trend and stand out from the crowd
Gen Z girl eating pizza
Generation Z, a diverse and digitally-native consumer cohort born between 1997 and 2012, is becoming increasingly influential as booming wellness trends and global sustainability shifts continue to reshape food industry landscapes.

As their spending power increases, reaching this disruptive, environmentally-conscious demographic should be a priority for forward-thinking restaurants and foodservice operators, with a new report from GNT Group highlighting the potential of visually stimulating food and drink options that align with Gen Z’s sustainability and holistic wellness values – an emerging consumer viewpoint dubbed: Healthy Hedonism.

“Healthy Hedonism resonates with the new generation of conscious consumers who are determined to rewrite the rules,” Maartje Hendrickx, Market Development Manager at GNT Group, told FoodIngredientsFirst.

“To tap into the trend, brands need to celebrate disruption and adopt a new visual language for products that are both healthy and environmentally sound. Earthy colours are no longer a necessity – it’s time to be bold, be creative, and make people smile.”

From indulgent yet healthy snacks to eye-catching TikTok creations that play to both personal and planetary wellbeing, Healthy Hedonism is all about considered disruption, boosting better-for-you options through bold colour schemes and playful presentations.

So how can the hospitality industry capitalise? We take a look at some interesting routes for restaurants when developing offerings with Gen Z and Healthy Hedonism in mind.

Super, seductive seaweed
When considering both health and the environment, from a food perspective, seaweed is emerging as a standout ingredient, being sustainable, nourishing and, in some cases, vibrantly coloured – ideal for bold dish innovations.

Look to spirulina, a highly nutritious, CO2-capturing algae that delivers brilliant blue-green colours and a plethora of nutrients, including magnesium, B complex vitamins, and all nine essential amino acids. Applications are seemingly endless for spirulina, with smoothies, salads, breads and ice creams just some of the opportunities.

Creativity and playfulness is the aim of the game with Healthy Hedonism, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box with presentation (especially if you’re rightly targeting a bit of free Gen Z marketing on Instagram and/or TikTok).

Take the below 'Ocean Crumble dessert by Cornish restaurant Duchy Grub, for example: a spirulina and sea buckthorn crumble with vanilla foam, plated to represent the ocean meeting the sand.
Ocean Crumble by @duchygrub
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Psychedelic Plant-Based
What’s more eye-catching than psychedelic visuals? Considering ongoing trends with adaptogenic mushrooms, nootropics, CBD and holistic wellness, psychedelic themes within plant-based foods is something to keep an eye on, with associated colours and styles certainly a way of making new dishes stand out.

We’re obviously not advocating for psychoactive compound infusions, but what better way to align with Healthy Hedonism than to play with naturally vibrant greens, pinks, purples, reds and yellows on plant-based plates?

Take Italian plant-based brand Flower Power, for example. Launched in London in 2021, it’s array of fun and colourful vegan burgers (made from all-natural colours and ingredients) have been all over social media from the get-go.

Its buns range from yellow (thanks to turmeric), to black (with vegetable charcoal) and even violet tones through cherry and beetroot extracts.

Dynamic Desserts
You really can’t discuss hedonism without bringing in desserts. And, through the lens of Healthy Hedonism, ube (or purple yam) is an interesting proposition.

Boasting a nutty, creamy taste and vibrant purple colour, ube is a tuberous root crop commonly grown in the Philippines. It’s an excellent source of dietary fibre and antioxidants, is particularly climate-resilient, and heralded as a sustainable food source.

Ube is gathering traction among foodies as we approach 2023, and is finding its way more and more into baked goods and desserts, with examples including a gluten-free ube velvet cake from Pop Shop Bakery (US) with decadent ube cream cheese frosting.
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