Did you know that two in five Singaporeans are flexitarians?
With the increase in focus on health and wellness, as well as sustainability, more people are turning towards flexitarianism. Additionally, the global growth in numbers of flexitarian has also propelled the demand of plant-based foods.
What is the meaning of flexitarian? Who are they?
Flexitarians are people who believe in eating primarily plant-based foods, while keeping their consumption of animal products to a minimum. Following a flexitarian diet could mean having meat only one meal a day, or limiting to meat dishes only on weekends (or possibly even to one day a week).
Many flexitarians are former omnivores who shifted towards plant-based diets due to concerns about health, animal welfare, and the environment.
Some may be concerned whether adopting a flexitarian diet enables them to get all the nutrients that they need. Fortunately, there are a variety of plant-based foods that act as great alternatives. For example, iron, which is a known nutrient of animal meat, can also be found in greens such as beans, peas and lentils.
In Singapore, most flexitarians cite health concerns as their top reason for switching to the diet – with key concerns being the health risks related to the production of meat and fish, and the impact that processed meat could have on their health.
And this isn’t just a fad – flexitarians are here to stay. Over the past few years, there has been a steady and significant growth in the number of flexitarian diners. However, these diners still love the taste of meat and don’t see themselves becoming completely vegetarian or vegan. (In fact, only 14% of flexitarians say they would even consider a vegetarian or vegan diet.)
Vegan vs vegetarian
What about vegans and vegetarians? How do they differ from one another? For people who don’t practice these diets, the differences may seem minimal – but vegetarian and vegan diets are quite different, and this can affect the way you label our menus (and tweak your recipes).
In general, vegetarians don’t eat animals – but they can eat animal products such as eggs, dairy and cheese. There are various reasons why people choose a vegetarian diet (and in addition to the reasons listed above – i.e., health, love for animals), and religious beliefs also play a part.
On this note, it’s helpful to know that some religious diets also exclude alliums, which are sometimes also known as the “five pungent vegetables” – onions, garlic, chives, green onions and leeks. This means that if your vegetarian dish contains these ingredients, it’s important that your menu says so.
Vegans, meanwhile, have much stricter diets. They stay away from all animal meats, including fish, and even animal products. Nothing that comes (or came) from an animal should be served in a vegan dish.
Now that you’re aware of the differences between each group, it’s important to understand how your menu can cater to these different groups.
How should you cater to a vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian diet?
With 39% of diners being flexitarians, does this mean that you should switch almost half your menu to vegetarian-friendly dishes to appeal to their diet? Not necessarily. It’s also important to note that 89% of vegetarian/vegan-friendly dishes are actually purchased by omnivores.
What does this mean for your menu? The basic rules still remain – it’s all about taste, taste and taste.
But, some flexibility with your choice of meats can give diners more choice, and ensure that they can savour their favourite dish – whether they walk in craving animal meat or a plant-based dish.
And this is where plant-based meats are changing things up!
What’s shocked the world about plant-based meats is just how good they taste. Unlike traditional “mock meat” options, this isn’t simply fried tofu or dough, coloured and sliced to look like drumsticks and char siew – these meats actually look and taste like animal meat! For restaurants, this is a game-changer.
But one question remains. What exactly is inside these delicious “meats”, and are they healthy to consume?
Plant-based meats to the rescue!
Here’s the good news, all meat-lovers – whether they’re omnivores or vegans – can now have their cake (or in this case, meat/plants) and eat it too.
With plant-based meats like those from The Vegetarian Butcher, you can create plant-based meat versions of your most popular dishes – while having them retain the same taste of animal meat.
Or, you can get creative and whip up new dishes using these plant-based meats, and offer them as special items to stir up excitement among your diners – and get them coming in on any day of the week, whether they’re in the mood for an animal or plant-based meal!