March 21st, 2022
Tap into the freedom of plant-based dishes
From the plant-based chicken nuggets increasingly available at quick-service brands up to the sushi-grade vegan calamari coming to market, new plant-based foods are flooding restaurant menus. According to the Rethinking Meatless report by taste and nutrition company Kerry, plant-based menu items have skyrocketed 800 percent over four years. As the options have gotten tastier and gone mainstream, even carnivores are enjoying them: A 2021 survey from the market research firm Piplsay found that of 30,700 people polled, 71 percent said they had heard of plant-based meat substitutes at quick-service restaurants. Of those, 54 percent had tried the alternatives – 72 percent of whom identified as meat eaters. Plant-based options on restaurant menus are likely to expand even further. The Impossible company alone launched a record number of products in late 2021, including plant-based sausage, chicken nuggets, pork and meatballs. But even if you don’t offer these particular items on your menu, consumers’ desire for plant-based food takes the pressure off of restaurant brands to offer a particular animal protein – and that’s a great thing when inflation is high and supplies are uncertain. At a time when a restaurant customer happily orders an Impossible burger or one made from quinoa or black beans or lentils or vegetables, there is room for chefs to innovate – and to make creative substitutions based on what ingredients happen to be available and affordable at a given time.
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