A quarter of meat-eating adults want plant-based protein alternatives from brands, according to globalwebindex’s Future of Food Report 2020. The demand for plant-based alternatives stretches well beyond those on a vegetarian, or vegan diet.
Driven by younger (under 35s), Gen Z consumers, it’s a key trend to master to meet this segment’s needs.
The first thing we learn from investigating this trend is that plant-based eating does not consist exclusively of plants.
Although plant-based eating focuses on choosing primarily a variety of nutrient rich plant-derived foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, soy, legumes (dried peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils), nuts, seeds and vegetable oils, it does include a small amounts of dairy products, fish, poultry, meat and eggs.
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Understanding the benefits of a plant-based diet, and busting common myths about this way of eating should persuade any sceptics to introduce this healthy trend into their operation.
There are real benefits to eating predominantly plant-based foods. A plant-based eating pattern has been associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as contributing more vitamins, minerals and fibre to one’s overall diet. In addition, there are benefits to the environment including reduction of waste and water consumption, which can have a positive impact on climate change.
The Truth About Plant-Based Diets
Plant-based eating provides adequate protein and key nutrients.
High quality protein can come from a wide variety of foods, including legumes, chickpeas, various beans and nuts, lentils, seeds and soy, along with whole grains, such as quinoa, barley, or amaranth. In addition, this eating pattern tends to include more fruits and vegetables, which can help increase your intake of nutrients, such as vitamin C and A, potassium, magnesium and fibre.
Plant compounds are also provided, such as flavonoids which are widely available in tea, fruits, and vegetables. Iron can be found in dark green leafy vegetables, lentils, tofu, grains, nuts and seeds, while calcium can be found in foods such as kale, broccoli and almonds. Good fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can be found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds and foods made predominantly of them, such as dressings and mayonnaise.
Plant-based menu items do not have to be vegetarian or vegan.
Plant-based menu options do not have to be only vegetarian or vegan foods. Foods such as eggs, seafood, poultry, lean meat and low-fat or fat-free dairy products can still be offered, but with reduced amounts.
Plant-based menu items do satisfy customers.
Plant-based eating tends to have a combination of fibre, protein and good fats to help keep guests satisfied.
Plant-based items are not more labour intensive, or difficult to prepare.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Plant-based recipes can be full of flavour and easy to prepare to bring excitement to take away and restaurant menus.
Here are some ways you can appeal to the growing plant-based crowd:
- Add one or two vegan meals to your current menu.
- Substitute meats in current dishes with vegan protein options.
- Simply go more plant-heavy and shift meats to the backseat in some or all recipes.
Veganism isn’t the only plant-based food trend – a “Flexitarian” is a person who sticks to a plant-heavy diet, but also eats meat and dairy occasionally. There is flexibility in the way you can shape your menu to appeal to plant-happy customers.
Which Plant-Based Menu Items Should I Incorporate?
How can you satisfy your clients’ cravings while also cashing in? Here are some of the basic building blocks to based your plant-based menu on:
- Black beans
- Tortillas (wheat, rice and corn)
- Sweet potatoes
It can be easy to take a traditional option – like a pizza or burger – and turn it into something meat-free. Pizzas can be laden with delicious roasted veggies, and burger meat can be imitated deliciously with mushrooms or black beans.
Plant-based eating is a super-trend, embraced by young, health-conscious followers. With convincing benefits and few drawbacks, it is a trend which can be gradually introduced and tested.
Gloalwebindex (2020). Future of Food. An exploration of the food industry in a health-conscious era.