POLL: Is the demand for meat-free dishes declining?

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Veggie options: Guests may be straying away from plant-based food (Getty/ Yagi Studio)
Veggie options: Guests may be straying away from plant-based food (Getty/ Yagi Studio)

Related tags Food Chef

Research indicates that customers may be falling out of love with meat-free meals, but is the craze for plant-based food actually in decline?

This comes after a 2022 report by Chef’s Pencil analysing Google Trends revealed interest in veganism could be dwindling.

Companies such as Pret and Nestle have ditched some of their plant-based offerings. The café chain closed half of its vegetarian and vegan-only stories, while Nestle pulled two o fits plant-based brands from UK shops.


Is the demand for meat-free dishes declining?

  • Yes

  • No


What’s more, vegan food company Meatless Farm announced it would cease trading last month amid a stagnating and overcrowded market of meat and dairy alternatives.

According to Nina Matsunaga,​ head chef of the Black Bull in Sedbergh, Cumbria, there’s a place for meat in menus focused on sustainability.

When customers dine out, they want to have a good time, she belived. “They want all their decisions to have been made for them and for the decisions to be right,” she said.

Sustainable use of meat

At the pub, chefs try to take a nose-to-tail approach, using an animal’s whole body, for instance. A pig’s head, for example, is used in dishes like Pig’s Head Terrine.

“We know where this product comes from,” Matsunaga continued. ‘It’s a good quality product, and if we didn’t have this then we would have an anonymous piece of beef from a wholesale butcher that I’d have no clue if it was even British or not, where it’s been, how its life was or what age it was.”

However, around 2% of the UK population describe themselves as vegan, according to YouGov​, a similar figure to the 600,000 people reported by The Vegan Society​ in 2019.

Plant-based offering

Furthermore, a survey carried out last year by Ipsos revealed 48% of adults use plant-based milk alternatives, and 58% use plant-based meat substitutes in their diet.

Chefs shared their top tips​ to boost a plant-based menu with The Morning Advertiser.  ​Don’t overcomplicate dishes,​ was the advice from the Shibden Mill Inn head chef Will Webster.

“When I first started at the inn, I was trying too hard to make the dishes really fine dining with a lot of elements and it just didn’t work,” he said. “Now we just keep it simple and focus on getting the best flavour possible.” 

Former head chef of the Duncombe Arms, Ashbourne, Derbyshire Jake Boyce, agreed. “Keep [the dish] simple, delicious and seasonal; let mother nature sort the combination out and treat it with love,” he said. 

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