Until about twenty years ago you were looked upon suspiciously if you claimed to be a vegetarian, as for being a vegan, people were absolutely clueless. Today it is considered to be quite normal if you are vegetarian and as for being a vegan, that is still considered a little different but at least people understand what it means. Vegetarianism is growing, in the US it still only accounts for 5% of the population whilst in the United Kingdom a massive 21% of people claim to be vegetarian.
People choose a vegetarian diet for a number of reasons. The majority of people find the idea of animal suffering abhorrent, whilst there are those who believe that a vegetarian diet is much healthier. Whatever the reason, there are many more vegetarians and vegans around and they need to be catered for. In the past they would make simple food from raw ingredients but now they are demanding ready made food just like everyone else, often even mimicking foods made of meat. In 2018, the vegan food market was worth $12.69 billion and this is rising at an incredible rate.
Large caterers, such as airlines, work cafeterias and restaurants need to cater for these people, even if they still only represent a minority of their customers. These customers are no longer willing to be served substandard or bland food. The days of offering Welsh rarebit or a vegetable stew as the vegetarian option are over. Now they are demanding good quality food, even food that mimics food others are eating or food that they used to eat before they took on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Caterers have had to get creative, they are looking for solutions that allow them to cater for this growing minority, without lots of extra work and expense. The food needs to look as good as the rest of the food and taste just as good.
It has become advantageous for caterers to start looking outside of their own kitchen for a solution. Food manufacturers such as ChefMan based in Israel which has a 13% vegetarianism rate has started providing a buy in solution for caterers. They create foods in bulk packages that are meat substitutes. In essence the caterer can use these as they are or use them as the basis for dishes that they are creating themselves.
As vegetarians and vegans are often extremely conscious of what they put in their bodies, manufacturers such as ChefMan put in a great deal of effort to make sure that their products provide all the extra nutrients that a vegetarian needs. They also often put in a great deal of effort to make sure that they are gluten free, egg free and dairy free to make sure that they cater for as large a clientele as possible.
As the growth in vegetarianism and veganism is growing at an astounding rate and the demand for exceptional quality vegetarian and vegan food also increases, caterers need to up their game so that they can keep all of their customers happy whilst also keeping their businesses profitable.