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Trade misses out on vegan food market

By Nicholas Robinson+

06-Oct-2015
Last updated on 06-Oct-2015 at 09:15 GMT2015-10-06T09:15:41Z

Pearl barley risotto from the Vittoria in Bristol
Pearl barley risotto from the Vittoria in Bristol

Pub chefs must work harder to cater for the UK’s growing vegan population, following criticism by one industry expert who claimed most pubs couldn’t be trusted to serve 100% vegan food.

Tim Barford, who organises the VegFest vegan events in London, Brighton, Bristol and Glasgow throughout the year, said most chefs were lacking the basic knowledge to prepare truly vegan food and, therefore, potentially missing out on thousands of pounds in food sales.

“I wouldn’t eat in many pubs with a vegan option, mainly because of the chefs’ lack of understanding about cross-contamination, but also because many vegan options aren’t nutritionally balanced,” said Barford, who is also manager of the vegan bodycare firm Yaoh.

‘Nutritional basics’

 “The chefs should know a few nutritional basics when preparing vegan food,” he added. “Vegan dishes tend to be very carbohydrate-heavy. They still need to be nutritionally balanced like many other good dishes.”

He suggested, for instance, using pine nuts, grated nuts, tofu or even peas to add protein. Serving something with a side dish of lentils would also help add more protein to a meal.

Making a good vegan dish

Vegan dishes tend to be very carbohydrate-heavy. They still need to be nutritionally balanced like many other good dishes

  • Source: Barford

Although around only 2% of the UK population is vegan, interest in vegan and vegetarian food in the eating-out sector is growing, according to recent data from the Publican’s Morning Advertiser’s sister title M&C Allegra Foodservice.

Meat-free dishes now accounted for more than  31% of new dishes on UK menus, it said. Other research from the Walter Thomson Innovation Group showed 30% of consumers aged 18 to 29 claimed they wanted more vegetarian and vegan options on menus.

M&C Allegra Foodservice senior analyst Peter Linden said: “The healthier eating megatrend plays a key role, as operators expect customers to embrace vegetarian dishes as healthier options.”

Created a vegan menu

Bristol-based pub the Vittoria has created a vegan menu following a rise in local demand. Food trade has since increased by about 10%, according to chef Jo French, who took over the 39-cover pub with partner Chris Newall in 2014.

In a bid to eliminate cross-contamination between ingredients for vegan dishes, vegetarian dishes and meat dishes, French and Newall staggered their deliveries.

Vegetables are delivered and prepped first thing in the morning, French explained. Then fish and meat comes in and is prepped afterwards.

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