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With the low and slow cooked meat trend lingering and restaurants up and down the country seemingly still perfecting their signature burger, you might find it hard to believe that customers may actually welcome a reduction in meat on your menu.

Research conducted by YouGov on behalf of Eating Better, suggests you may want to consider making a few menu swaps. According to the survey published December 2014, one in five people in the UK have cut back on the amount of meat they are eating and a further one in three say they are willing to think about eating less meat.


Swapping a few of your meat plates for interesting vegetarian options could help you in a number of ways. When it comes to groups of friends eating out it’s often the vegetarian who gets the casting vote on the venue. If the veggie options on your menu are clearly an afterthought, you’ll immediately be out of the running.

Of course, it’s not just vegetarians and vegans who choose meat-free meals. As the YouGov survey shows, many consumers are consciously choosing to eat less meat for health and ethical reasons. Factors driving this trend include distrust of meat sourcing and growing concern surrounding animal welfare issues associated with buying cheap meat.

In the aftermath of the horse meat scandal it’s perhaps surprising to find that the most recent authority trading standards and environmental health officer survey of lamb dishes in takeaway restaurants failed 21% of outlets due to the presence of  undeclared meat species. By choosing a vegetarian option, customers can feel a little more confident about what they are eating.

Another factor which is making more of us reach for the greens is the growing prowess among top chefs who are creating mind blowing meat-free feasts. Gone are the days when you were judged solely on your ability to cook a lump of steak or Dover Sole. Chefs such as Ottelenghi have led the way in showing how interesting vegetables can be and have helped vegetation of all kinds to become less of an afterthought and more of a main event at fashionable restaurants.

If you head for a tasting menu at a fine dining establishment, you’re now very likely to encounter several vegetable only dishes as chefs demonstrate their versatility with vegetables. Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse’s Plaza Athenee hotel has a strong vegetarian focus. He explained to the Guardian that this was a conscious decision: "The planet has increasingly rare resources so we have to consume more ethically, more fairly."

As Sue Dibb, coordinator of Eating Better puts it: “Significant numbers of people are waking up to the message of flexitarian eating by having meat-free days and enjoying better quality meat in smaller portions. There are also opportunities for businesses: eating less and better meat is becoming trendy thanks to top chefs putting vegetables centre-plate.”


In addition to being more creative with produce of the soil there’s also an opportunity to take a more diverse approach to the meat you do offer on your menu. We spoke recently in our Brazillian food post about embracing even more cuts of meat and offal on the menu. Doing so could help you reduce your butchery costs. Research analysts Mintel have also suggested that consumers are open to trying even more kinds of meat with around a third of adults stating they would like to try some of the most common game meats that they’ve not eaten in the last six months. With this in mind, you may want to consider featuring locally caught game on your menu.


If your menu looks decidedly free of those little Vs that indicate dishes are suitable for vegetarians, it might be time to test the creativity of your chef. In addition to the annual Meat Free Week, which is taking place this year between 23rd-29th March 2015, the Meat-Free Mondays concept has been running for some time and has some high-profile foodie supporters such as Jamie Oliver.

The idea is simple; you miss meat off the menu each Monday. It’s probably a little impractical to take meat off your menu once a week, but you could adapt the concept and use Meat Free Monday as an opportunity to introduce a weekly vegetarian special onto your menu instead? Vegetarian Week, which takes place 18-24th May is another great opening for adding some va-va-voom to the veg on your menu.

Have you noticed more meat-eating customers opting for meat-free options on your menu? Do you already run Meat Free Mondays at your café or restaurant? Please share your meat-free or meaty views with us in the comments below.


Lockhart Catering on 26 March 2015 2:28 AM

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