In the space of just one year to November 2020, Deliveroo reported a 115% increase in demand for plant-based meals. The UK is the largest consumer of plant-based milk, meat, cheese and ready meals in Europe, according to the Vegan Society. I do think there is a long way to go, both in terms of quality and quantity. So where do we see vegan products in the UK heading in 2021?
Yes, you read that right! I was in Amsterdam in the heady days of Feb 2020 and there I had my first experience of vegan ‘sashimi’. It really, really looks like raw fish. I admit I had very low expectations of the first piece I put in my mouth. These however, were immediately dispelled. It was quite tasty and very moreish. I’m not really a fan of plant-based seafood, but I’d eat this again.
Healthier Fake ‘Meat’
What we know about good health is that you need a diet high in natural protein and low in refined carbs, so this is a big challenge for plant-based alternatives. We predict that 2021 will be the year that we start to see a trend in the direction of healthier and less processed animal alternatives. Ed Al Subaei, executive Chef at Stem & Glory, is a genius at creating fake ‘meat’ out of vegetables, instead of highly processed ingredients. For example, he makes a show-stopping ‘ham’ from smoked celeriac sheets, and ‘chorizo’ from beetroot. Using the classic flavours to make the experience, whilst remaining 100% unprocessed.
At present, vegan cheese is the absolute holy grail, and the race is on to be the first company that creates a plant-based cheese that has the same taste and texture as dairy cheese. A few brands are now on the verge of creating an authentic product with an engineered cow’s milk.
Innovation in sustainable vegan leather is happening. Michiel van Deursen from Capital V is one investor interested in the plant-based fashion space. ‘Leather is not sustainable at all, and since the alternative is often plastic, this has brought about a shift now towards plant-based and biodegradable vegan ‘leather’.
Vegan Ready Meals
We are in development mode for our new ready meal range which has a focus on taste and texture, as well as innovative dishes. The aim is to bring restaurant quality to supermarket shelves and raise the bar on vegan ready meals.
An overarching trend which will underpin all others in 2021 is sustainability. To date, plant-based has been labelled, by sole virtue of it being ‘made from plants’, as ‘sustainable’. We believe that 2021 will be the year that this comes fully under scrutiny.
Louise Palmer-Masterton is founder of multiple award-winning restaurants Stem & Glory; hip and trendy but accessible plant-based restaurants, serving delicious gourmet vegan food from locally sourced ingredients, 100% made on site. Stem & Glory also offers click-and-collect and local delivery in London and Cambridge. www.stemandglory.uk