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2018: Year of the veggie

There has never been a more promising time to be a vegetable. Gone are the days where, if you were unfortunate enough to be a carrot, your only options were boiled to death, or left until unusable in a salad drawer. The prospects for veg are much brighter nowadays with a booming enthusiasm among both chefs and the general public. Vegetables are often taking centre stage while meat, if incorporated at all, often plays second fiddle, providing a broth or accentuated garnish. From whole baked cauliflower, to mashed pumpkin spread on sourdough toasts, veg is bringing it’s A-game for 2018.
It’s not just the trendy new bistros and cool-kid cafes that are going full throttle into veg heavy dishes either. McDonalds recently trialled a veggie burger called the McVeggie, which was met with huge social media fanfare and could be rolled out in the very near future.
Vegetarianism, as well as veganism, is of huge public interest and with a surge of vegan magazines and recipe columns in the broadsheets, the rise in interest is only set to continue. High street sandwich giant Pret A Manger also trialled a successful vegetarian location in London, and are now in the process of rolling out their Veggie Pret location across London.
Meanwhile, the Foxlow, sister restaurant to modern steak institution Hawksmoor, is going completely vegan for the month of November and Pizza Hut has released a pizza made with vegan cheese.
Yes, veganism has gone totally mainstream and final highlights worth mentioning are Ben & Jerry’s new vegan ice cream, and an almond milk version of Christmas boozy favourite Bailey’s.
So where does that leave us in food service for 2018? Well as the food journos and hacks begin to file articles on ‘What food trends to follow in 2018’, it’s going to be almost impossible to avoid the vegetable eating elephant in the room. You will be hearing a lot more from celebrity chefs about vegan recipes and customers are going to be ever more scrupulous on the makeup of dishes.
While your Christmas menus are bringing home the bacon this December, high time for our industry, we should forecast and plan menus for the New Year that embrace vegetarian and vegan diet choice. January and February are notorious for picky eaters and those struggling to cling onto whatever resolution they’ve just made, but dedicated vegan meals that are innovative, flavourful and most importantly, filling, could very well be a way to capitalise for 2018. What’s more, in many cases, you may be able to enjoy better margins on the dishes you turn out, and benefit from longer shelf life on product.