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National Vegetarian Week

With increasing numbers choosing either to stop eating meat altogether or simply enjoying meat-free meals, it is now a no brainer for operators to include decent vegetarian options on their menus. The cheese omelette of yesteryear has had its day. The Vegetarian Society is urging caterers to embrace the meat-free trend and revamp their menus for National Vegetarian Week.

Three in ten people in Britain (29%) say they have reduced the amount of meat they eat in the previous 12 months, according to findings from NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey. A further one in ten said they were considering reducing their meat intake or cutting meat out completely. The report, produced by Britain’s social research institute, NatCen, also states that nearly half (44%) of people either do not eat meat, have reduced the amount of meat they eat or are considering reducing the amount of meat they eat.

Lynne Elliot, Chief Executive of the Vegetarian Society (www.vegsoc.org), said: “We commissioned this research because, for some time, we have noticed people are positively engaging with the idea of eating less meat, but until now there has been little academic evidence to support this.

“This report very much reflects what we see every day in our work: that there is an increasing awareness of the issues relating to our food choices, and that has resulted in a large number of people reducing the amount of meat they eat or cutting it out altogether.”

The analysis found that over a third of women (34%) and nearly a quarter (23%) of men had reduced their meat intake in the last year. Older people (65 to 79 year olds) were twice as likely to have reduced their meat consumption as 18 to 24 year olds (39% compared to 19%). Interestingly, there are more women in Britain who have reduced, intend to reduce, or completely stopped their meat intake than those who said they have no intention of doing this.

When asked why they had given up meat, reduced their intake or were thinking about doing so, the reasons were:

    • Health – 58%
    • Saving money – 21%
    • Concerns over animal welfare – 20%
    • Concerns around food safety in relation to meat – 19%. 

Respondents were alllowed to choose more than one reason.

Spice it up for Vegetarian Week

Offering authentic vegetable curries is the ideal way for foodservice operators to spice up their menu, as well as put some heat under sales during National Vegetarian Week, says Bestway Wholesale.

Tony Holmes, Bestway's sales director for foodservice and retail, says: “By combining pulses and lentils from the White Pearl world foods range, exclusive to Bestway, with curry spices and other authentic products, caterers can create vegetarian dishes that will set customers' taste buds tingling.

“With so many consumers looking for interesting meat-free menus when they eat out there's a big opportunity for operators. Curry dishes are ideal, and as a specialist world food wholesaler with decades of experience sourcing authentic products, Bestway has everything that caterers need.”

Here’s an emergency checklist of potential ingredient pitfalls to watch out for when promoting dishes as vegetarian:

      • Cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Parmesan or Grana Padano are not vegetarian
      • Check your risotto is made with vegetable stock
      • Desserts such as panna cotta usually contain gelatine
      • Some sauces may contain fish stock, ensure your stock is vegetarian
      • Fish sauce is a common ingredient in many Thai dishes

Veggie curryBestway's tips for curry sales during National Vegetarian Week

      • Promote your menu on specials boards and through social media
      • Offer a choice of curries with different pulses, spices and heat levels to boost customer choice
      • Offer smaller and sharing portions to encourage groups of customers to mix and match dishes
      • Add accompaniments such as rice, bread and pickles
      • Contact local vegetarian groups to promote your menu - the map at www.vegsoc.org/localgroupsmap can help.

Bestway Wholesale operates a dedicated telesales hotline (01738-646666) for orders plus nationwide deliveries. Caterers can also order online at www.bbfoodservice.co.uk

Vegan numbers growing

“2017 is shaping up to be the best year yet for vegan dining as we’re seeing a real explosion of interest in alternatives to animal-derived foods as well as great improvements in their quality and variety,” says Dawn Carr from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

“We’ve already seen the opening of the UK’s first all-vegan fried chicken shop in London as well as the launch of a vegan fish and chip shop in Bristol and a nationwide vegan meal delivery service (allplants), while restaurants and supermarkets are clamouring to cater to the booming vegan market.”

Businesses are often surprised by the positive response that new vegan dishes receive. Speaking about Zizzi's popular vegan menu, Kathryn Wilson, the restaurant chain’s head of food development, said: “We wanted to test it out and see what reaction we got with it – and there was such a strong response. The menu did about three times the business I had predicted. It also did very well on social media, with

PETA works with restaurants and other food businesses to help them reach the booming vegan market, whether it’s through identifying easily veganisable menu items or promoting existing vegan options via social media or PETA’s Vegan Food Awards.

For advice, email Vegan@peta.org.uk.

For anyone looking to improve their vegetarian and vegan dishes, the Vegetarian Society Cookery School's 5-Day Intensive Training Programme for chefs, caterers and restaurateurs runs through the year - details at www.vegsoccookeryschool.org.

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