16th May 2022
This week is the annual National Vegetarian Week. Running from 16th – 22nd May, it’s organised by the Vegetarian Society to promote and educate people on the benefits of a meat-free diet.
National Vegetarian Week has grown popularity since launch in 1992, from a one-day focus to a week long industry event backed by a host of famous chefs and celebrities such as The Hairy Bikers, Stephen Fry, and Chris Packham.
We’ve delved into how UK diets are changing and what this means for menus, plus discover 5 great ways to use Halloumi to boost vegetarian menu options.
It is without doubt that as a nation the UK’s diet is shifting. As a trend, meat consumption is decreasing, with more people adopting flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan diets.
Whilst only 6% of Brit’s describe themselves as vegetarian, this number jumps to 13% for 16–24-year old’s (YouGov Food Study 2022), indicating that the growth is being driven by the younger age groups (Gen Z). Expectation is that this trend will continue, and the total percentage of vegetarians will only continue to rise in coming years.
The majority of the population, however, are not ready to completely give up all meat consumption. This is where a flexitarian diet comes in. Flexitarians adopt a mainly vegetarian based diet, with the occasional consumption of meat. Now as many as 11% of Brits identify as flexitarians (YouGov Food Study 2022).
This trend is being seen further afield than the UK. thefoodpeople (Healthwatching December 2021) reports a European study covering 10 countries (including the UK) suggesting that 46% of people have reduced their meat consumption in the past year.
The UK Government has also identified the need to assess the nations diet. In 2019 an independent review was commissioned in order to help the government create its first National Food Strategy for 75 years. The review, published in 2021, highlighted how the nation’s diets will need to change over the next 10-years to meet existing commitments on health, climate and nature. One of the key changes identified was to reduce meat consumption by 30% by 2032. The governments final strategy is due to be published in June 2022 when we will really see what the proposed changes to the UKs food chain and diet will look like.
Restaurants and cafes are often at the forefront of food trends. Out of home settings are continuously improving their offerings to ensure they keep attracting a steady flow of customers.
Furthermore, with household incomes being squeezed, restaurant and cafes are coming under increasing pressure to attract customers when they do decide to eat out of the home. Ensuring they cater to all diets of those diners is key to getting them through the door. This is ever more important when looking to attract the next generation of customers, who, as shown previously, feature a far higher proportion of vegetarians than the wider population.
The biggest brands in this space are all doing it. Think the McDonald’s McPlant burger, Greggs going viral with their vegan sausage roll, and Leon’s ethos of ‘increasing the number of plants on the menu’. Vegetarian and vegan menu options are here to stay.
Additionally, is there now a moral obligation for the out of home venues to do their bit – in terms of sustainability, the environment and for people’s health? And if the National Food Strategy targets are to be met then just some simple changes to menus can go a long way to achieving this.
thefoodpeople (Healthwatching March 2022) reported a study conducted by Oxford University concluded 48% of diners would opt for a vegetarian dish when given a choice of 3 or 4 options. This number drops dramatically to only 12% when 3 or 4 options on a menu are meat based.
For establishments worried about a potential impact in sales, then an earlier study by the University of Cambridge will alleviate these fears. Their study found that by doubling vegetarian options, purchases of these items increased by between 40-80%, but importantly without affecting overall food sales.
Dairy products can provide the required step change and increase vegetarian options on menus. Dairy product consumption remains high across the UK, with 68% of the public consuming it at least once a day (YouGov Food Study 2022). Only 3% of respondents stated to never consume it.
Furthermore, with 85% vegetarians eating dairy at least once a week (YouGov Food Study 2022), increasing vegetarian menu options with cheese as centre of the plate, offers dishes that will appeal to the vast majority of customers.
Milk and dairy products also offer nutritional benefits. They are good sources of protein, calcium and vitamins A & B12, (NHS) and are ‘important in a healthy balanced diet, providing many nutrients essential for good health’ (British Dietetic Association).
So, what’s the best way to increase vegetarian options on menus with dairy?
Halloumi is a fantastic substitute for meat. It is a good source of protein and calcium, whilst its texture and cooking properties make it an ideal swap for meat in a range of dishes.
Halloumi remains as popular as ever in the UK. Brits are the biggest consumers of the product outside of Cyprus and demand continues to grow, with retail value increasing by 23.6% in the 12 months to May 2021 (Kantar Take-Home Sales: Continental Cheese).
Halloumi was recently crowned Britain’s fourth favourite cheese in a survey by Cartwright & Butler, confirming Halloumi as an excellent choice to base increased vegetarian menu options on.
There is always room for a burger on a menu. Forget the meat patties and let Halloumi Burger Slices steal the show. Why not try our Mushroom and Halloumi Burger with Miso Butter?!
Perfect for lunch options, these easy and quick to prepare paninis can be filled with a variety of ingredients to compliment the Halloumi. Here we’ve added fresh tomato and basil pesto for an Italian inspired version.
Halloumi, or even Chilli Halloumi, is fantastic in a curry. Fried Halloumi cubes give an ideal texture to replace meat, and the spice level can be adjusted to suit difference preferences.
Traybakes, especially summery version, have been on-trend in the past year. They can be prepared as individual portions or as sharing options, are a great way to incorporate in-season vegetables. Our version features cherry tomatoes, asparagus, broad beans, and courgette.
Ideal for breakfast, brunch and even lunch menus, stack toasted crumpets with avocado, scrambled eggs, and tomatoes before adding griddled Halloumi.