Top chefs put vegetables centre-stage as diners eat less meat

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Top chefs put vegetables centre-stage as diners eat less meat

Related tags: Hugh fearnley-whittingstall, Nutrition, Restaurant, Josh eggleton, Sra

Chefs including Josh Eggleton and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall are backing a campaign to place vegetables centre stage on restaurant menus.

The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) says its More Veg and Better Meat initiative is in response environmental concerns over meat consumption and the growing number of flexitarian diners in the UK.

Almost half (44%) of people have already reduced the amount of meat in their diet or are willing to do so, according to YouGov study​ of 1,700 adults earlier this year.

Putting vegetables centre stage in a non-vegetarian restaurant was pioneered by Bruno Loubet's Grain Store​ when it opened in 2013, but now a growing number of chefs are getting in on the act. 

Earlier this month Eggleton closed his Chicken Shed restaurant at Bristol’s Cargo development and replaced it with vegetable-centric project, Root,​ in partnership with SRA director Amelia Twine.

The ten main dishes are based around one vegetable and diners can choose to add one of the five simple meat and fish dishes.

“There’s a strong message here and we’re being creative,” says Eggleton.  “Just having meat and fish on the side will get people thinking and realising that they don’t need meat with everything to make a delicious meal.”

Plant power

Chefs are also moving vegetables up the menu to prevent them being overlooked. Sam Clark of London’s Moro says that sales of his mixed vegetable mezze have risen by 25% since he moved it to the top of the list of main courses.

“Psychologically, people see it sitting proud at the top of the menu, rather than at the bottom as some sort of afterthought,” says Clark.

“The other big thing, is that once a few people start ordering it, others see it coming out of the kitchen and think ‘wow’ that looks amazing.”

Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall, whose River Cottage restaurants boast 50% vegetable menus, is also backing the initiative.

The SRA campaign follows the recent crowdfunding success​ of plant-based burger group Vurger Co, while US vegan chain By Chloe is set to launch its first international site in London this autumn.

For more ideas on improving your menu visit the SRA website ​or see more examples on social media using #FlipTheMenu.

Related topics: Restaurants, Trends & Reports

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