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Wednesday 17 October 2018

Seeding change; Meeting consumers’ demand for plant-based food

Whether it’s the latest flexitarian offers from the supermarkets, growing presence of meat-free options in high street food restaurants and cafés or the explosion of Instagram #veganlife stars, it’s pretty hard not to notice that plant-based diets are where it’s at. Among young people particularly, flexitarian and reduction in meat consumption is a huge food trend, with a fifth of British 16 to 24 year olds identifying as either veggie or vegan, which is driving demand for tasty and satisfying vegan options.

There are a number of drivers behind this. Firstly, growing awareness that what we eat has a massive impact on our planet, with many people having concerns about the environmental impact of global meat production and the sometimes questionable ethics of factory farming.  

Millennials and Gen Z are environmentally aware and will pay a premium for products with positive social and ecological values. Secondly, the many celebrities and social media stars who promote plant-based, natural diets, mean that this way of eating, coupled with the trend awareness more ‘clean’ eating and healthier lifestyles, means that plant-based diets are aspirational, and quite frankly, never looked so good.

Finally, on the high street, supermarkets and restaurants are launching vegan menus and products in quick fire succession, notably brands like Pret, who have now opened three Veggie Pret stores and have increased the number of veggie options in all their stores, and Wagamama, which has a vegan menu. This means that plant-based foods are mainstream and as consumers, it’s easier than ever for us to eat this way all, or some, of the time.

Charlie Huson, Forward Food Programme Manager, HSI UK comments; “We are working with Sodexo, as well as with top universities, caterers and other institutions to meet this demand by providing free plant-based culinary training. Chefs are keenly aware that the days of vegan food being a sideline are long gone and that plant-based eating is firmly moving into the mainstream. Our workshops empower them to embrace this shift and get creative in the kitchen.”

Earlier this year a group of our chefs took part in plant-based culinary training, delivered by Charlie and chef and author Jenny Chandler, who was one of our guest speakers at Sodexo Live.

The chefs had the chance to learn about flavour and texture, for example how to create savoury umani flavours with ingredients such as seaweed salt and kimchi, and how to create ‘creamy’ textures normally associated with diary through vegan alternatives such as avocado and non-diary yogurts.  They were also tasked with making some vegan dishes that could work in a commercial contract catering setting, such as vegan mac and cheese, roasted aubergine with soba noodles and bean chilli con quinoa.

Jeremy Alderton, Managing Director, Independents by Sodexo; “This is an important and evolving trend among young consumers and we’ve certainly seen increased demand for plant-based dishes in our business. This type of training is critical and we’re happy to be engaging with genuine experts to improve our culinary knowledge in this area.”

To build on this culinary expertise, Sodexo has launched a vegan street food offer, ‘Planted’ featuring dishes such as vegan tacos, which will be available across the business. With benefits to the environment, health, and, let’s not forget, offering serious Instagram opportunities, plant-based food is something we are delighted to get behind, in order to meet the needs of our consumers and promote better quality of life.



Posted by Independents

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