With the hospitality industry gradually reopening, environmentally friendly plant-based concepts will continue to be a key part of menus, writes Sheila Eggleston.
Support for the annual Veganuary in January 2021 soared and is now a key event for those interested in trying plant-based products for a month to learn more about them and their impact on the planet.
In total, 582,538 people signed up for Veganuary 2021, surpassing the 2021 target of 500,000. In addition, 825 vegan products were launched during January.
While not all meat eaters will convert to veganism, more people in future will become “ecotarians” – consumers who only eat food produced in a way that doesn’t harm the environment – and look at products offering good quality, high animal welfare, and locally sourced.
Toni Vernelli, head of communications at Veganuary, said: “With the link between animal farming, the climate crisis and global pandemics making headlines nearly every day, we expected Veganuary 2021 to be the biggest yet but it exceeded all our expectations.”
Analyst Mintel reports a huge increase in Brits acknowledging the impact eating meat has on the environment. In 2018, 25% of Brits felt that eating less meat was better for the environment, but this shot up to 42% in 2020. Mintel’s research found that 41% of consumers are reducing their meat consumption or cutting it out altogether, resulting in it expecting the value of meat alternatives to soar to £1.1bn by 2024. But despite this, it says veganism remains niche with just under 2% of the population following this diet.
However, while plant-based dishes are no longer for the minority, operators have to up the ante to keep menus fresh, tasty and exciting by using more ingredients such as jackfruit with its perfect texture to enhance them, and different cuisine styles to increase footfall for both chains and independents in the casual dining sector. For example, Mexican cuisine continues to do well on menus universally, but particularly for food to go.