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Flexitarianism, vegetarianism, veganism … Over the past few years, terms such as these that reflect a shift in attitudes towards meat are increasingly used just as much in sociological studies as in the media. While dietary restrictions originally hailed from religious or cultural rules, today’s changes are the result of significant sociological developments.
Increasingly vegetarian Europeans
More than just a trend, European consumers are truly and more deeply concerned with farming conditions and animal welfare. These concerns stem from the values they wish to stand for but deal even more so with health and responsible consumption. Mindsets have changed for a variety of reasons:
- food safety scandals surrounding meat products;
- whistleblower campaigns on the abuses of factory farming, led in particular by NGOs;
- a desire to connect to a ‘naturalness’ that is just as beneficial to the living conditions of animals as it is to consumer health.
For our purposes here, we define vegetarians as people who abstain from consuming meat and fish, but not eggs or dairy products as vegans do. Vegan living avoids consuming any products derived from animals. And finally, flexitarians consume less meat products, but are not exclusively vegetarian.
Unless otherwise mentioned, all figures are taken from the CREDOC survey for FranceAgriMer and the OCHA (CNIEL Observatory of Eating Habits), 2019.
- 58 % of Germans say they know at least one vegetarian among their acquaintances
- 4 % say they are vegetarians (5.6 % when including vegans)
- 26 % say they are flexitarians
In the United Kingdom
- 70 % of British people say they know at least one vegetarian among their acquaintances
- 5 % say they are vegetarians (8 % when including vegans)
- 28 % of British people say they do not consume meat or want to consume less
- 40 % of French people say they know at least one vegetarian among their acquaintances
- 5 % of French people say they are vegetarians and 10 % plan on becoming one
- 35 % say they are flexitarians
Cooking vegetarian dishes with ease
Though habits dictate that we traditionally prepare meals by pairing meats with a vegetable side dish, we are seeing stronger consumer demands for meat alternatives. Institutional catering and food service markets are evolving in the face of this shift. How can they offer meals that both meet the needs of diners and fit with the daily routine of chefs?
Vegetarian meals require a change in habits when it comes to preparing menus. There are plenty of alternatives to meat, such as lentils, chickpeas and red kidney beans, which are all good sources of iron and protein. Eggs – included in a recipe or in the form of an egg-based product – are an invaluable solution for chefs. Not only are they a source of vital nutrients, but they are rooted in food habits and offer a great alternative to meat products in many dishes.
Chefs can find simple and delicious ways to use them to enhance vegetarian meals in institutional catering. Of course, there are those traditional burgers and sandwiches whose meat is replaced with tasty omelettes. But don’t forget those other dishes that include eggs in a variety of forms, such as verrines, platters of cocktail nibbles, tapas, desserts, salads, and more. The Cocotine cookbooks, developed by French chefs, are a source of inspiration thanks to their easy-to-make recipes.
Diners are asking for vegetarian dishes more and more, and the changes that entails, from preparing to garnishing dishes, should not be a source of inconvenience for chefs. On the contrary, they are a great opportunity to recreate and surprise consumers. The vegetarian and flexitarian movement is gaining momentum all across Europe, and institutional catering must be able to satisfy demands. At Cocotine, we work each day to offer high-quality, innovative products to meet these expectations. You’re up!