On its 24th consecutive year, National Vegetarian Week takes place between 16th and 22th May. The week aims to promote the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle through events, sharing healthy recipes and encouraging foodservice operators to add new dishes to their menus.
The NHS reports that there are around 1.2 million people in the UK eating a vegetarian diet, however, independent studies have reported a figure closer to 3 million.
If 3 million potential customers are not eating meat, operators can’t underestimate the benefits of including multiple ‘veggie’ options on their menus.
Customers are becoming more aware of the impact that eating high quantities of meat has on animals, the environment and health and are keen to make a difference. Even those that currently eat meat are adapting a more ‘flexitarian’ lifestyle. Social research conducted by NatCen* found that 44% of people no longer eat meat, have reduced the amount of meat they eat or are considering reducing it.
High street café Pret A Manger have recently opened a veggie pop-up store in central London. The pop-up store and Pret marketing campaign focus on the ‘not just for veggies’ concept. With the vegetarian diet becoming more mainstream, operators are looking for ways to improve their vegetarian options with interesting flavours and unique twists.
Many chefs worry about creating a balanced vegetarian meal, however there are many tasty substitutes to meat that also include protein. From chickpeas, beans and lentils to tofu, quinoa, nuts and seeds, a variety of delicious, colourful dishes can be created.
2016 is International Year of Pulses, a time to celebrate pulses for providing protein and other nutrients, whilst playing a part in a more sustainable future. With peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils so popular this year, there has never been a better time to increase your vegetarian offering.
But, why stop at vegetarians, you can provide dishes for everyone by offering gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan menu items. Give your customers the option to customise: chips or rice, salad or steamed vegetables, chicken or lentils.
If you’re looking to improve your on-the-go menu offering, our range of Free From labels will allow your customers to easily identify food that is vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free. Take a look at our blog post about our Free From labels.
* See NatCen results here.