Vegetarians prefer creative plant-based recipes over meat replacements such as veggie sausages and meat-free lasagnes when eating out, according to a new survey conducted by vegetarian and vegan suppliers Vegetarian Express.
The survey, commissioned for National Vegetarian Week (16-22 May), discovered that more than half (60%) of vegetarians found meat-free dishes less appealing when presented in the guise of a meat product and would rather see natural, vegetable ingredients utilised in innovative recipes.
Will Matier, MD at Vegetarian Express, commented that “rather than trying to recreate uninspiring meat-free versions of traditional dishes, caterers should be placing more emphasis on their ingredients when menu planning in order to provide interesting, colourful and high quality vegetarian options in their own right.”
The research, when teamed with figures from the Vegetarian Society that reveal 44% of people are either choosing to follow a meat-free lifestyle, reduce the amount of meat they consume or are at least considering cutting back, indicates hospitality operators ought to invest more attention into their vegetarian offerings to appeal to this wide demographic.
Vegetarian Express also quizzed respondents on what type of dish they would be keen to see more of on menus with the top choice coming out as vegetarian pasta dishes – a choice that took over half (51%) of the votes. Vegetarian curries appealed to 36% of respondents whilst stir-fries were favoured by 32%. Additionally, perhaps due to the advent of the summer season, 33% of vegetarian respondents were keen for more vegetarian barbecue options on menus. Interestingly, just over a quarter (26%) of non-vegetarian respondents agreed.
Will Matier said: “It is important to remember that you don’t have to be vegetarian to love vegetarian food. Meat-eaters and flexitarians are increasingly seeking out vegetarian dishes if they sound interesting and look appealing.”
He added that when it came to designing vegetarian menus, natural ingredients were particularly versatile, “boasting a range of different tastes, textures and colours” and that when it came to ingredients, a significant proportion (40%) of people wanted more pulses in their vegetarian dishes.
“Interestingly 40% of people want more pulses – with 2016 the International year of the Pulse, now is the time to include them in dishes.”