It’s no secret that the popularity of plant-based food is on the rise. A renewed desire for a healthy lifestyle and a focus on environmental sustainability adds to the upward push of this nutritious trend. Millennial and Generation Z populations are leading the way in reducing overall meat consumption. And because this movement isn’t going away any time soon, eateries everywhere will want to pay attention to the growing demand and provide menu items that draw in the plant-loving crowd. Let’s dive in and discuss how to introduce these tasty meatless options into your restaurant’s fare.
What exactly does plant-based mean?
A plant-based diet is typically made up of fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, beans, nuts, and seeds — often minimally processed or in their whole food form. These foods are chock-full of fiber, protein, vitamins, enzymes, minerals, antioxidants, and all-around goodness. Studies show that upping plant-based food consumption and limiting meat intake can lower cholesterol levels, decrease heart disease and reduce the risk of some types of cancers. And while all kinds of diners enjoy plant-based foods, those fueling the meatless movement are typically vegan (no animal products), vegetarian (no meat products), and flexitarian eaters (mostly plant-eating but occasionally eat meat).
A plant-based twist on the traditional
There are a host of traditional foods that occupy a sweet spot in the minds and hearts of many plant-based eaters, making even the strictest vegan think twice about straying from their meatless ways. The iconic mouthwatering cheeseburger is one of those temptations. But companies have upped the ante with an incredibly delicious solution; meatless burgers that are just like the real deal (not your typical frozen bean burger here). Many plant-based options, such as the Impossible Burger or Beyond Burger, have the same texture, flavor, and look like the original. Even carnivore-leaning customers often can’t tell the difference. Other manufactured meatless items that are easy to add to your menu are faux seafood, plant-based sausages, eggs, and dishes with non-dairy milk and cheeses.
Some of your staple menu items might need a slight tweak or substitution to become plant-based. For example, need a simple replacement for eggs in a recipe? Water with flax meal or chia seeds will do the trick. Aquafaba (juice from canned chickpeas) is also an egg substitute and can even make a nice frothy meringue. Another delicious tip for creating a vegetarian version of the original is to use seasoned, shredded jackfruit instead of pork in dishes like stir-fries, tacos or BBQ sandwiches. Coconut manna is an incredible (and slightly sweet) replacement for the butter on toast. And when in doubt, mushrooms, cauliflower, beans, tofu, and tempeh are hearty replacements for traditionally meat-centered dishes.
Preparing and cooking plant-based foods
Cooking up plant-based menu items can take a little more thought, but using the right equipment makes it easier. Some plant fibers are more sensitive to overcooking, and instead of a delicious cauliflower coconut curry, you can easily end up with curry cauliflower mush. Try testing out different plant-based recipes and adjust the heat and cook time until you get it just right. Smart equipment with precise heating technology and the ability to input preset heat and cook time-based on the recipe are great ways to ensure you have a perfectly cooked dish every time.
A helpful partner
The plant-based lifestyle is a healthy trend that’s here to stay. Learning ways to incorporate these dishes into your menu is a smart move for your operation and will bring smiles to the faces of your guests. Innovative equipment is a helpful partner in creating tasty new dishes that please. To learn more, take a look at our blog, “In Speed-Scratch Dishes, the Right Equipment Matters.”
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