Catering for vegans
The number of vegans in the UK has risen 350 per cent in the past decade. There are over 500,000 vegans and over a million and half people who are vegetarian or vegan in Britain. Additionally, more and more people are choosing to eat less meat, adopting a ‘flexitarian’ or ‘part-time vegetarian’ diet. Whether it’s for health, environmental, or animal welfare reasons, one thing is certain: consumers want to have good quality plant-based options on the menu when eating out. They do not want to have to ask for them, or cobble together two sides and put up with chips and salad.
We caught up with Demuths Cookery School in Bath (www.demuths.co.uk), which offers both vegetarian and vegan courses, to find out why it has become so important to provide vegan options on your menu.
EC: Why is it necessary to include vegan options on menus?
Demuths: The public perception of veganism has changed dramatically from an alternative lifestyle to a mainstream choice whose touchstones include personal health and environmental awareness.
Customers now expect to be able to choose what they want to eat, and for the menu to be clearly labelled that dishes are suitable for vegetarians and/or vegans. Some restaurants are going a step further and providing separate vegetarian and vegan menus to give their customers even more choice.
EC: Any tips for operators thinking of offering vegan choices?
Demuths: Vegans don’t eat any animal products, so no meat, eggs, dairy – milk, cream, cheese, butter and no honey either. Vegans have to look out for hidden products such as gelatine in mousses, panacotta and set desserts. Most wines and beers are fined (cleared) with animal products such as gelatine and isinglass (egg white) so are not suitable for vegans.
EC: Why are vegetarianism and veganism becoming increasingly popular?
Demuths: Research shows that a global reduction of the amount of animal-sourced foods in our diet would have substantial benefits for both health and climate change. As such, not only are health professionals calling for people to eat less meat and more vegetables, the public has responded with a genuine interest in eating more vegetables. An August 2017 report from Mintel found that over a quarter of meat-eating Brits have reduced or limited their meat consumption in the last six months, with 9% of Brits cutting out red meat or poultry entirely.
We’ve seen this first hand at Demuths Cookery School. The popularity of our vegan classes and vegan diplomas, which are run four times a year, clearly indicate to us the consumer demand for learning how to make vegan dishes.
Helping hand from Humane League
“While some food businesses are embracing the vegan movement, others could do with a helping hand,” says Vicky Bond, Managing Director, The Humane League. “That’s why The Humane League has teamed up with Veganuary and Vegan Chef Day to produce a Catering Guide, enabling businesses to expand and improve their vegan options without having to make sweeping changes to their menus or ingredient supply.”
Vegan Sticky Toffee Pudding
Recipe courtesy of Demuths Cookery School, Bath
FOR THE SPONGE
250ml soya milk
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
115g vegan margarine
115g soft brown sugar
200g white self-raising flour
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
FOR THE TOFFEE SAUCE
50g golden syrup
100g soft brown sugar
75g vegan margarine
50ml soya cream
½ tsp vanilla essence
TO MAKE THE SPONGE
1. Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC.
2. Line a 20cm x 20cm shallow cake tin with baking parchment.
3. Chop the dates in half and put them in a small saucepan and cover with the soya milk and water. Simmer until the dates are soft.
4. Take off the heat and stir in the bicarbonate of soda, which will froth as you add it to the date mixture.
5. Leave to cool.
6. Beat together the margarine and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the date mixture and stir in.
7. Mix the spices into the flour.
8. Sieve the flour and fold into the sponge mixture. Spoon the sponge mixture into the prepared tin.
9. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or until cooked. The sponge will bounce back when pressed.
TO MAKE THE SAUCE
1. Melt the syrup, margarine, sugar and vanilla essence in a small saucepan.
2. Simmer for 5 minutes without stirring.
3. Leave to cool slightly then stir in the soya cream.
4. Prick the pudding all over and pour half the hot toffee sauce over the pudding.
5. Serve the rest of the sauce with the pudding and, if you like, a scoop of vanilla soya ice cream.