The Vegetarian Rush

Vegetarianism isn’t restricted to just fruits and vegetables. The vegetarian food industry is getting prosperous, diverse, and full of delicious alternatives to meat, cheese, and other non-veg food.  As the number of people adopting a vegetarian diet is increasing, so also the market which is experiencing positive growth trends and innovations are plenty.

Just imagine if you are a vegetarian (or a vegan), then you will know what it feels like to go to a fine dining restaurant. It is clear that the chef has no real interest in your meal and that he is cooking it only because he has been forced to. Chef Gordon Ramsay once said that he is ‘allergic’ to vegans. Anthony Bourdain’s opinion – “vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to everything I stand for.”

But the latest trends in the food circuit are changing:

More fast-casual restaurants are offering vegan and vegetarian options, and exclusive such restaurants are being established. These restaurants are broadening the market for vegetarian and vegan food.

Vegan ice cream has hit the mainstream market, with almond milk-based options now available from good and reliable suppliers. Vegan chocolate bars and candies are also growing in popularity. Now, we have a wide range of vegan dark chocolate bars and a range of vegan and nut-free gummy candy.

Vegan cheese: Any experienced dairy-free individual knows that finding a satisfying vegan cheese can be very tough work. Luckily, the cheese options available in the vegan and vegetarian food markets are becoming more sophisticated and advanced. There is a line of coconut-based vegan cheeses and nut & plant-based cheeses which are also gaining popularity over soy-based ones.

Increased variety of meat alternatives: The meat substitute market includes jackfruit, tofu, textured vegetable protein, Seitan (a plant-based meat substitute made out of wheat gluten). This is increasing the food options available to consumers who don’t eat meat and to those who are switching to vegetarian and vegan food.

Packaged vegan foods: Packaged vegan foods are growing approximately at a rate of more than 11% per year. The market includes products like prepared meals, bakery and confectionery items, snacks, and others. The growth of this market is due to the number of customers adopting vegan and vegetarian diets. This has increased the demand for pre-packaged foods. Packaged vegan food and vegan products are more widely available at an affordable price. Thus, adopting and maintaining a vegan diet is much easier now for a greater number of people.

Restaurants are offering a plethora of vegan options in recent years, so chances are, wherever you are, you’ll find a great plant-based meal. With these new trends and development, international airlines are now joining the fray.

All Nippon Airways (ANA), is hopping on board with the plant-based shift with new menu options. ANA will serve vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free curated by Chef Hideki Takayama. The star dish – Curry-flavoured Chickpea Hamburger Steak with Vegetable Curry served with rolled cabbage in couscous salad, mixed salad, rye roll, and assorted fruit; along with Vegetable Pilaf, Stewed Red Lentils & Vegetable served with petit Paris bread roll and assorted fruit. The menu has been developed without root vegetables to accommodate the eating habits of more customers.

ANA is not the only airline getting into vegan food in time for World Vegan Month (November). Air Canada is also upping its in-flight vegan meal options. The menu has Farro Salad and Spiced Chickpea Wrap, along with vegan blondies and energy snacks.

Alaska Airlines is getting further into vegan food, too, with the launch of a new fall salad. The vegan salad features Tuscan kale and romaine lettuce, topped with roasted shaved Brussels sprouts, red quinoa, red peppers, golden raisins, capers, roasted almond slices, and is served with an agave and apple cider dressing.

Emirates has been honouring vegan meal requests since the 1990s, mostly due to passengers who abstained from consuming animal products due to religious reasons. However, in recent years, Emirates has vastly increased its vegan offerings to serve a growing global demand for plant-based meals. Emirates has curated the menu to its first and business-class offerings, which will include exciting items such as kofta made with Beyond Meat – plant-based meat, the economy section will have Creamy Spinach and Avocado Mousseline with Marinated Tofu; Multi Coloured Quinoa with Caramelised Pear and Celeriac Purée; and Roasted Cauliflower, Glazed Carrots, Sautéed Kale, and Lovage Pesto. For desserts, it will have selections such as Dark Chocolate Custard Cake and Chocolate Tofu Cheesecake.

Chefs are being forced to acknowledge that the old-style meaty menus are dying. Gordon Ramsay is now praising vegan food. The new generation of chefs is “taking bold steps in creating innovative dining experiences that please the palate of everyone in the customer matrix. Emphasis is on the importance of sustainability and encouraging change. A chef does have to be the guiding star to help navigate the gastronomic journey.

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