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National Vegetarian Week (16-22 May) - caterers encouraged to ‘veg out’

National Vegetarian Week (16-22 May) - caterers encouraged to ‘veg out’

As National Vegetarian Week kicks off, new research has revealed that 74% of diners are open to trying new vegetarian ingredients and dishes out of home and a further 60% find typical meat analogues such as vegetarian sausages and burgers unappealing.

The independent research, commissioned by Vegetarian Express, highlights an increased opportunity for foodservice outlets to profit from meat-free menu sales – in fact, 39% of diners want to see more vegetarian options, particularly when it comes to pasta dishes (51%), curry (36%) and stir fries (32%).

This is particularly important for operators as the increased demand is not just coming from the veggie camp but also from the 51% of meat-eaters who would try more vegetarian dishes when eating out in the next 12 months. With vegetarian cuisine clearly broadening its appeal and attracting more interest from meat-eaters, as well as the growing number of meat reducers or ‘flexitarians’, caterers who liven up their offering stand to benefit greatly.

Will Matier, Managing Director at Vegetarian Express, comments: “With National Vegetarian Week upon us, the spotlight is very much on vegetarian cuisine but the fact of the matter is that more needs to be done by caterers to meet diners’ demands.

“It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be vegetarian to love vegetarian food. Meat-eaters and flexitarians are increasingly seeking out vegetarian dishes if they sound interesting and look appetising – limited, uninspiring choices such as veggie burgers, meat free sausages and vegetable lasagnas just don’t cut it anymore. Caterers who meet this demand will not only create more choice for their customers, but also more profits for themselves.”

Cooking styles

Styles of cooking that caterers may wish to capitalise on are Caribbean, which is tipped to be a favourite cuisine in 2016 (60%), as well as Japanese (41%), Middle Eastern (41%) and Brazilian dishes (37%). With the growing trend in foodservice towards social sharing and healthier choices, it seems consumers would also like to see this style of dining reflected in the types of food available to them, with nearly half requesting lower calorie dishes, 42% desiring sharing platters and 39% calling for small plates or tapas-style food.

Will continues: “Rather than trying to recreate uninspiring meat-free versions of traditional dishes, caterers should be placing more emphasis on their ingredients when menu planning in order to provide interesting, colourful and high quality vegetarian options in their own right.

“Vegetarian ingredients boast a whole range of different tastes, textures and colours – nuts can provide added crunch for example, while chillies can ramp up the heat. Interestingly, 40% of people want more pulses – with 2016 the International Year of the Pulse, now is the time to include them in dishes

For some tasty vegetarian recipe ideas, visit www.vegetarianexpress.co.uk   

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