This week sees the start of National Vegetarian Week and UK distributor of vegetarian and vegan ingredients Vegetarian Express has come up with six easy tips for meat-free menus.
Working with Paul Gayler MBE, consultant chef and former executive head chef at London's Lanesborough Hotel, the results highlight the most important considerations for caterers to target the 26% of consumers who actively choose not to eat meat.
Will Matier, managing director at Vegetarian Express, said: "It's a common misconception that catering for vegetarian diets is boring and difficult but that doesn't have to be the case. Vegetarians deserve the same eating out experience as everyone else and with almost 60% of people feeling there aren't enough vegetarian dishes on menus, there is a clear opportunity for caterers to step up to the plate and profit in the process. We're hoping our top tips will inspire chefs and operators to simply offer more."
Six top Tips for Meat-Free Menus
• Make sure veggie options are colourful and combine flavours and textures to add interest. For example; add almonds, walnuts or pecans to liven up a salad, or use shiitake mushrooms to give a similar texture to meat.
• Horizons highlights health as an increasing factor in consumer choice when eating out and with research showing that vegetarian diets are often healthier than those of an average meat-eater, a meat-free option can become a menu hero.
• Choose the right substitute
•Be creative: prepare interesting and attention grabbing features that set you apart from the competition. This could include a colourful, seasonal 'pick and mix' salad bar where customers can help themselves to the variety on offer, or a juice bar serving freshly squeezed, made-to-order vegetable and fruit blends.
•Tempt customers with samples: non-vegetarians often habitually gravitate towards the menu items that contain meat; try tempting them with a sample of a vegetarian dish, a small plate or a sharing platter.
•Profit in the process: remember, gross profit margins are typically greater on vegetarian dishes than they are on meat options. Meat-free versions of consumer favourites can maintain appeal with mainstream customers whilst catering for demand and maximising profits in the process.
For innovative recipes developed by Paul Gayler MBE such as 'Grilled Lemongrass Tofu on an Indonesian Rujak Salad' visit www.vegetarianexpress.co.uk