The rise of veganism and flexitarians
It’s official. Meat-free foods are in the mainstream now, with a report from market research firm Mintel claiming that 56% of UK adults have eaten vegetarian food and 34% of Brits have either limited or reduced their meat intake in the past year. Supermarkets such as Waitrose (the first in the UK to add a dedicated vegan section in 125 stores nationwide) and Iceland have embraced the rise of veganism and now you can buy anything from ‘fish-less’ fish fingers made with tofu and seaweed to a beetroot wellington. To highlight this shift from minority interest to mainstream, the latest edition of The Good Food Guide now highlights restaurants with specifically vegan menus.
An increasing number of people are also identifying as ‘flexitarian’ (only eating meat and fish occasionally), opting for a plantfocussed diet when cooking at home or eating out. Rosa’s Thai Cafe chain has been a trailblazer in bringing more choice to flexitarian diners, and owner Saiphin Moore says the past year has seen more customers asking for meatless dishes. She says: “Offering vegetarian options has always been very important to us and I think meat-free foods will only become more popular. Our stir-fry aubergine with chilli and holy basil is one of our most popular dishes, for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.”
Oldroyd, Tom Oldroyd’s eponymous restaurant in Islington, introduced a weekly-changing meat-free Monday menu that became so popular he introduced a dedicated vegetarian and vegan Christmas menu. He says: “We used to get one or two requests a week for vegan dishes but it’s now a daily occurrence. That’s why we wanted to dedicate a whole day to being meat-free. It gives us time to experiment, keeps us thinking about new dishes and inevitably spills out into the rest of the week. Since offering meat-free (and 80% vegan) Mondays we’ve seen our customer numbers double on this day.”