Six Steps to Meat-Free Menu Success

Vegetarian Express Ltd

Vegetarian Express Ltd

Standard Supplier 9th June 2015

Six Steps to Meat-Free Menu Success

With National Vegetarian Week fast approaching (18th – 24th May 2015) Vegetarian Express – the UK’s premier specialist distributor of vegetarian and vegan ingredients – is supporting operators with six easy tips for meat-free menus.

Working with Paul Gayler MBE – consultant chef and former Executive Head Chef at London’s world renowned Lanesborough Hotel on Hyde Park Corner – Vegetarian Express highlights 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, says: “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.”

Paul’s Six Top Tips for Meat-Free Menus

1. People eat with their eyes: make sure veggie options are colourful, full of exciting flavours and presented in an interesting way when plated. 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. By using a variety of vegetables and a diverse range of spices it will ensure the dishes appeal to vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
2. Consider the health benefits: 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. Beans, for example, are the most nutritious and versatile of foods benefitting from being low in fat and cholesterol free and when used instead of meat, still offer the diner a substantial meal.
3. Choose the right substitute: items such as tempeh and tofu – which have long been staples of Asian cuisine – make great substitutes to meat but it’s important to consider their different uses. There are two different types of tofu for example; fresh, firm tofu is best for holding shape when baking or grilling, while the soft silken tofu is better suited to desserts, creamy sauces and dressings. Beans are also a great way to substitute meat while keeping a vegetarian’s protein intake up – in fact 63% of people opted for beans as their favourite ingredient in a recent survey*.
4. Be creative: prepare interesting and attention grabbing features that set you as an operator apart from the competition. This could include a colourful, seasonal – therefore always changing – ‘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.
5. 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 – often a small taste will help them take the plunge with a meat-free option.
6. 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 those operators looking for further inspiration during National Vegetarian Week, Vegetarian Express provides expert advice on nutrition and menu planning; its website is packed full of ideas, advice and special offers, as well as innovative recipes developed by Paul Gayler MBE such as ‘Grilled Lemongrass Tofu on an Indonesian Rujak Salad’ and ‘Portobello Mushroom and Corn Breakfast Kedgeree with Toasted Cashews’.

As suppliers and consultants to the catering industry, Vegetarian Express offers an extensive range of vegetarian, vegan and international products from staple dried goods and ethnic cooking sauces to Mediterranean deli goods and over 150 authentic herbs and spices to bring dishes to life.

*Toluna/Vegetarian Express 2015 **Vegetarian Society

To find out more about Vegetarian Express please call 01923 249714
or visit
Twitter: @vegetarianexpre

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