According to figures published recently in The Guardian, there has been a 350% increase in the number of vegans in Britain between 2006 and 2016. The vegan diet has been tried by 20% of under-35s, bringing what was once a marginal lifestyle firmly into the mainstream.
The industry has already responded to this change. Another recent survey carried out by catering equipment retailers Nisbets showed that 52% of restaurants offered one to three vegan and/or vegetarian options, 26% offered four to eight, and 8% offered more than eight.
London bar and restaurant group Drake & Morgan has recently added vegan dishes to its menu, such as a mushroom burger with smoked vegan mozzarella, or pearl barley risotto with vegan Pecorino. Even Dirty Bones, best known for its meaty menu of fried chicken and ribs, is getting in on the act with its Dirty Vegan pop-up, serving cauliflower 'chicken' and buckwheat waffles and other plant-based twists on the Shoreditch restaurant's signature dishes.
As Aggi Sverrisson, owner and chef-patron of Texture in Marylebone, London, says: "Veganism is growing at an incredible rate and restaurants are fast-adapting to cater to this. Last year, we saw a lot of vegan pop-ups,
products and 'cheap eats' come to market, and I think fine-dining establishments will follow suit this year."
Cooking with fire
The current popularity of cooking over open flames can be seen in Instagram sensation Tomos Parry's whole turbot grilled over lumpwood charcoal at his new opening Brat, but its influence can be traced back further. For example, in the early 1980s influential Argentinian chef Francis Mallmann opened his first fire-based restaurant in Buenos Aires, and chef Victor Arguinzoniz has been cooking everything - including desserts - over an open fire at long-established Basque country restaurant Asador Etxebarri.
Parry, chef-proprietor of Brat, explains: "People are drawn to primal and instinctive ways of cooking, and fire cooking is both of those. If people barbecue at home, they are already familiar with this style of cooking and they can relate to it in a restaurant setting.
The theatre of fire cooking is also what makes it attractive; it's an immersive experience and it appeals to all the senses."
The 2011 launch of Swedish chef Niklas Ekstedt's eponymous open-fire restaurant in Stockholm has also been influential on the continuing trend, and in London there is Neil Rankin's Temper, specialising in barbecued food, and Nieves BarragÁ¡n Mohacho's Sabor, with its Spanish wood-fired asador oven.
Activated charcoal is a fine black powder made from charred coconut shells, nuts and other edible materials. It has a long history of health and medicinal applications, but it first made an impression on the culinary world in 2014, when Italian food company Molini Spigadoro served vegetable charcoal-dough pizzas at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas. The claimed health benefits include aiding digestion, lowering cholesterol levels and alleviating hangovers.
Since then Instagram has become clogged with black food made with activated charcoal, including soft-serve ice-cream from Little Damage ice-cream shop in Los Angeles and a new range of charcoal brioche bun sandwiches at London café group Daisy Green. In February this year the trend went seriously mainstream when Prezzo added two black pizza options to its menu: Etna, made with a garlic, chilli and tomato base, topped with calabrese sausage, pepperoni, roquito chilli, rocket and mozzarella, and Monte Bianco, which has a béchamel sauce base topped with mozzarella, truffle-infused oil and rocket.
The Botanist London head chef Ameya Bhalekar predicts that activated charcoal is one of the biggest trends for 2018: "With its health benefits, it fits into the trend for wellness as well as being visually arresting and Instagrammable. We are considering charcoal-based desserts for the menu and experimenting with it in the breakfast dishes, too."
According to Daniel Fletcher, head chef at Fenchurch restaurant in the City of London, 2018 will see chefs increase their focus on food waste by taking a 'root to stem' approach to vegetable prep. He says: "It brings new and exciting techniques and flavours. This trend for conscious cookery shows no signs of stopping and is a key concern in the year ahead."
Chef Simon Rogan has been a practitioner of root to stem cookery at his flagship Lake District restaurant L'Enclume for many years, using every part of the vegetables, herbs and flowers he grows on his own farm, such as the long root and leaves of a cauliflower.
More recently, Skye Gyngell has introduced a 'Scratch' menu at her Spring restaurant in Somerset House in London, which is made entirely from kitchen scraps, such as potato peelings and beetroot tops. And Brighton-based chef Douglas McMaster, who opened Silo, the UK's first zero-waste restaurant in 2014, launched Cub restaurant in east London in 2017 with a similarly sustainable ethos.
Michelin-starred Italian chef Massimo Bottura's non-profit association, Food for Soul, which he launched in 2015, aims to empower communities to fight food waste through social inclusion. It has brought the subject into focus and into the headlines with his 'Refettorio' projects in Milan, Paris and London, where chefs use surplus ingredients to create meals for the socially vulnerable.
Poké is a Hawaiian dish (the word means 'cut' or 'section') of raw fish marinated in soy sauce served on a bed of rice with accompaniments including salsas, pickles, seaweed, avocado and cucumber. First taking off in New York and Los Angeles, poké become popular in the UK in 2016 with Island Poké and Ahi Poké.
Since then, Australian TV chef Bill Granger has added raw tuna poké with avocado, brown rice, cherry tomatoes, pickled cucumber and sesame to his Granger & Co restaurant menus, poké restaurants have opened around the country, including Oké Poké in Manchester and Kitokito in Brighton, and London groups like Island Poké have continued to expand.
As well as being a healthy choice that is endlessly customisable, the fact that many of the dish's ingredients are raw keeps overheads low for operators.
"This Hawaiian food trend doesn't seem to be shifting," says Vladimir Martynov, co-founder of Honi Poké restaurants. "The steady increase of openings around this type of cuisine could be down to the rising healthy eating trend in the 'grab and go' sector."
From our sponsor
In the past decade, the number of vegans in the UK has risen by nearly 360%, and according to the Vegan Society, over half a million Britons considered themselves vegan last year, with one in 10 having tried a vegan diet.
The lifestyle choice is driven by those aged 15 and over with the vast majority (87%) having chosen to become vegan for ethical and moral reasons. With this rise in demand, having vegan options on a menu is key if you want to cater to a broad range of dietary requirements and attract a wider customer base.
With this in mind, Bidfood has pulled together a range that taps into this growing market to encourage outlets to incorporate innovative, indulgent and tasty ingredients and ready-made options to their menus, such as jackfruit tacos, mock duck and vegan fish fingers.
For our full range, please visit: www.bidfood.co.uk/new4you-inspired-by/new4you-inspired-by-vegan
You need to be a premium member to view this. Subscribe from just 99p per week.
Already subscribed? Log In