Sustainability & Food Preferences
In my ‘too many years to mention’ career in catering the biggest change I have noticed in eating habits has to be the rise and rise of non-enforced menu choices and lifestyle preferences. For example, people sometime choose to eat a gluten free/dairy free diet who may not necessarily be allergic or intolerant to it and being a vegan is now mainstream.
Back in the mid-eighties there would be very occasional serious dietary requirements such as a nut or shellfish allergy, but on the whole, you would feel hard-done-by if a function of 500 had 1 vegetarian!
Fast forward 30 odd years and it seems like every third person in the western world has a food allergy of some sort and an ever-growing proportion of the population have made the lifestyle decision to reduce the amount of animal protein they consume by becoming amongst other things a vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian.
There are various reasons for this change. For some it’s about having a healthier diet, for others it’s about animal cruelty and for many it’s about sustainability.
As with all food production, the claim of sustainability is questionable and not as black and white as it may appear. However, a reduction in the mass farming of animals across the globe for food production can only be a good thing, and for this reason we have embraced the new culture and vastly expanded our vegan and vegetarian options.
When I started at OGGS 20 odd years ago, we of course had vegetarian options, but they were something of an afterthought. Now, however, the mindset of our customers has changed, and our vegan and vegetarian options are a choice, not an alternative, and consequently they now have an equal standing in the hierarchy of our menus.
For example, every menu type has a fully vegan/vegetarian choice and on the sit-down menus the traditional order of Fish, Meat, Vegetarian has been altered to reflect modern choices, and now reads Vegetarian, Fish, Meat.
Eating vegan and vegetarian dishes is not going to save the world, but it’s a small step in the right direction and we are doing our bit to support the little victories that may eventually win us the war.