Ramen, Kraft Mac & Cheese, and fast food: a bulk of today’s millennials just aren’t having it.
The onetime diet staples of 20-somethings are being elbowed out of the meal rotation in favor locally sourced, high-quality foods that fuel the body (rather than destroy it). But their passion goes beyond just what’s being served up on their plates: A growing number are launching their own health-minded companies, which in turn is completely revolutionizing the way you eat.
Some of your go-to Whole Foods brands? Chances are, the CEO is just old enough to legally rent a car.
Ready to be inspired? Meet the millennials who are changing the way we eat.
Chloe Coscarelli and Samantha Wasser, By Chloe co-owners
Chloe Coscarelli is virtually a brand at this point—and she’s only 29. With business partner Samantha Wasser, also 29, the By Chloe namesake is hitting the duo’s goal of convincing even hardcore meat-lovers that a plateful of vegan food can be equally satisfying via their ever-expanding restaurant empire (five locations spread out across New York, Boston, and Los Angeles currently packed with diehard fans on a daily basis, with four more on the way) and best-selling cookbooks. And by partnering with other very cool, talented women with the same mission, they are building a likeminded wellness community that seemingly everyone wants membership to.
Amy and Peter Rothstein, co-founders of Dona Chai
Even as a budget-conscious grad student at New York University, Amy Rothstein always prioritized buying local. So she was frustrated when she couldn’t find a single company producing high-quality chai concentrate in the area. The solution? She started experimenting with recipes until she crafted the perfect one, naturally. (The key ingredients? Fresh ginger root and cardamom.) Now 27, Rothstein heads up quickly expanding Dona Chai with her younger brother, Peter. Her brew is available at Whole Foods and several buzzy cafes in New York City. Now you can feel extra good when you cozy up with your cup of inflammation-fighting chai.
Taylor Collins and Katie Forrest, founders of Epic Provisions
Taylor Collins, 34, and Katie Forrest, 30, have completely changed the way people think about jerky. The duo revamped the preservative-packed gas station snack and created a bar that’s ethically sourced, grass-fed, and—yes—healthy (AKA nothing processed or with added sugar). They’ve since expanded to include yet another buzzy food: bone broth.
Annie Ryu, founder of The Jackfruit Company
When 25-year-old Annie Ryu first enrolled at Harvard, she was focused on becoming a doctor. But things took an unexpected turn when she discovered jackfruit on a trip to India. Rich in fiber and with a texture surprisingly similar to meat, the tropical fruit is a completely normal diet staple in other countries, but not so much here in the States. Ryu was so inspired that she founded The Jackfruit Company while still in school; today, her vegan meal kits (sold at Whole Foods) offer up not just tasty, plant-based options, but also provide jobs to underprivileged communities in India.
Rick Gusmano and Christine Cusano, founders of Eating Evolved
Rick Gusmano and Christine Cusano founded Paleo, vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free food line Eating Evolved shortly after graduating college. They taught themselves how to run a buzzy startup, learning everything from food laws to graphic design. Their hard work paid off: The Eating Evolved chocolate line has expanded and is available on Thrive Market and in specialty stores.
Laura D’Asaro, Meryl Natow, and Rose Wang, founders of Six Foods
Eating bugs might not be mainstream yet, but this female-led startup is hoping to change that. Armed with the knowledge that crickets are rich in protein and, well, pretty much everywhere, recent Harvard grads Laura D’Asaro, Maryl Natow, and Rose Wang launched Six Foods, selling treats made with cricket flour (e.g., Chirps Chips and Chocolate Chirps). And they aren’t the only millennials to get behind bug eating: Exo, another cricket-based food line, was launched by two Brown University students.
Brian Rudolph, co-founder of Banza
Pasta is a staple for students on a budget, but by now, it’s becoming common knowledge that gluten can be a major inflammation source. While still in college, Brian Rudolph started experimenting with creating a healthier, higher-protein pasta, and by 23 he launched Banza. The chickpea-based line of spaghetti, shells, and more is taking on mainstream companies (watch out, Barilla) as its stock list passes 2,000 stores and Rudolph has won over $600,000 in awards.
Chauniqua Major, founder of Project Pop
Nearly all the corn grown in the US is genetically modified—really bad news for popcorn lovers. Twenty-seven year old Chauniqua Major decided to do something about it. After spending five years as a publicist in the restaurant industry, she joined the healthy food movement by founding a vegan, GMO-free popcorn line. (Rejoice!) The young business owner gives her kettle corn an added health boost with extra-virgin coconut oil, organic unrefined cane sugar, and a touch of high-quality Himalayan pink sea salt—way healthier than the heavy dose of table salt other brands use.
Matt LaCasse and Lizzi Ackerman, co-founders of Birch Benders
While millennials are definitely prioritizing healthy food, that doesn’t mean they want to be stuck in the kitchen all day making it. Matt LaCasse, 30, and his wife, Lizzi Ackerman, 29, made a somewhat-messy, ingredient-heavy breakfast classic a snap with Birch Benders, a just-add-water organic pancake line with vegan, Paleo, gluten-free and high-protein mixes. The Yale graduates launched the company in 2012, and their products are now sold in Whole Foods, Target, and ShopRite—and has brought in over $10 million. Clearly, this is the breakfast of champions.
More food news: These are the 15 trends you’ll see everywhere in 2017. Meanwhile, this is what it’s really like to be a smoothie-obsessed blogger.