There was a time when if someone heard “plant-based protein” they thought of a veggie burger or maybe some odd tofu-loaf concoction. However as people become more concerned about where their food comes from, these meat alternatives are becoming more and more popular.
The Call for Plant-Based Proteins
Consumers are focusing on well being. People believe plant-based foods improve overall health and help with weight management.1 Salad and grain bowls already have a serious healthy halo, and topping them with non-meat proteins only adds to their appeal.
These plant-based proteins don’t necessarily have to mimic the flavor or texture of meat. A recent survey showed 48% of people found a grain bowl with nuts, legumes and an amazing dressing to be just as satisfying as a meat-and-potatoes plate.2
Their Role in Foodservice
In North America, consumers are actively trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets (39% of Americans and 43% of Canadians).1 Gen Z is more likely to eat plant-based foods because someone in their family or circle of friends is vegetarian or vegan.3 A few others reasons consumers stated:
- They’re healthier (49%)
- To try something new (31%)
- To eat less meat/dairy (22%)
- They taste better (18%)
- They’re trendy (8%)
Grains are leading the way in plant-based protein menu innovation. Chefs and operators are finding all kinds of creative ways to add grains to their mix. In a recent two-year period, grains increased 26% in menu incidence, while meat substitutes were actually down slightly during the same period.4
Adding Plant Proteins to Your Menu
Consider these flavor-packed, meat-free dishes for your menu:
Spicy Lentil and Butternut Squash Salad: This warm salad features mixed lentils, butternut squash seasoned with roasted cayenne and smoked paprika, and spiced cashews.
Tabbouleh and Herb Salad: Traditional tabbouleh with quinoa, cherry tomatoes, avocado and cilantro adding flavor and texture. Topped with creamy Ranch dressing blended with cucumber and lemon zest.
Spiced Roasted Cauliflower Salad: Roasted cauliflower is spiced with cumin and smoked paprika, tossed with Brussels sprouts, radicchio and roasted red peppers, then tossed in Sesame Honey Dressing. Garnished with pickled onions and salted sunflower seeds.
1 Nielsen, “Plant-based Proteins Are Gaining Dollar Share Among North Americans,” September 2017
2 NRN, Data: The Rise of the Flexitarian, March 2018
3 Datassential’s Plant-Based Eating SNAP! Keynote Report
4 Plant-Based Proteins. Mintel Foodservice. August 2017