PARIS: From chickpea patties and roast seitan to sautéed tempeh or even smoked tofu, there’s no shortage of alternatives to meat, even if some nutritional issues have yet to be resolved, regarding the presence of additives or excessively long ingredients lists.
Generally, plant-based proteins are viewed by consumers as new choices to be consumed mostly at home, almost as if these new culinary compositions were not expected to be seen on restaurant menus.
But, in reality, chefs are quite receptive to the development of menus that offer more dishes without animal ingredients.
In France, a country known for its gastronomic cuisine, initiatives from restaurateurs are by no means exceptions.
In Lyon, for example, the restaurant helmed by the young team at Culina Hortus was crowned the world’s best vegetarian restaurant in 2020.
Meanwhile, the vegan chef Claire Vallée ran France’s first vegan restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star (although the ONA restaurant closed earlier this year due to staff shortages).
Indeed, a recent survey, carried out by the German food processing giant GEA, reports that the presence of plant-based foods in the restaurant business is certainly not insignificant.
In fact, 92% of the chefs surveyed use at least one alternative to meat or dairy products. Some 30% of them even use these alternatives to a high extent, and the same proportion cooks with alternatives to eggs and seafood.
Note that the research includes chefs from Brazil, China, Denmark, Germany, India, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, the 11 countries represented in this study.
In tune with customer demands
It might be easy to imagine that chefs could be resistant to new consumer trends. And yet, the opposite seems to be true.
Many chefs are well aware of their role in this dietary transition and have understood certain expectations.
Almost all (95%) expect their customers to demand more of this type of food over the next 10 years.
Meanwhile, 45% predict strong growth in demand for cell-based proteins – although for European food service professionals, the marketing of laboratory-produced foods, such as cell-cultured meat, is not currently allowed, unlike in Singapore, for example.
In any case, this demand for alternative proteins is already apparent, since nine out of 10 chefs have noticed a growth in the demand for alternatives to meat and dairy products.
While almost half of chefs surveyed (48%) believe that new alternatives to animal proteins can improve human health, they also apply the need for change to their own personal diets: a third have reduced the amount of meat they eat, while 15% of chefs even describe themselves as vegetarian or vegan.
In addition, they are only too aware of the restaurant industry’s carbon footprint, with almost all (96%) of the professionals surveyed saying that they are taking steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their establishment.