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It’s hard to ignore the recent surge of the American BBQ trend in our restaurants and street food outlets. Gourmet hot dogs, burgers and rotisserie chicken are everywhere you turn, perhaps as a direct rebellion to ‘healthy eating, free-from everything and high in the good stuff’ trend.

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However, a recent report from research carried out at Cambridge and Aberdeen universities has suggested that it’s not just our health we’re damaging through eating large amounts of meat. It   estimates that greenhouse gases from food production will go up 80% by 2050 if meat and dairy consumption continues to rise at its current rate. Now that developing nations are also developing a taste for meat, when previously vegetables, rice and grains were the staple, it’s no longer just Western society that global agriculture has to supply. Ultimately this will lead to increased climate change, let alone amplified mass deforestation, which currently sits at 35% of the earth’s surface cleared for food production.

The term ‘flexitarian’ has been bandied around for a while now to describe those that do eat meat but choose to eat vegetarian options. If the experts are to be believed, this category of consumer is set to rise; as experts are recommending meat lovers cut their consumption down to twice a week. But does this mean bad news for the food industry?

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Not necessarily. Salads and vegetarian offerings have never been more exciting than right now, with rediscovered vegetables and ancient grains making a comeback, salads have had a much needed makeover, making sliced tomatoes and cucumber salad a thing of history. In the US, Seattle Salads have found an innovative way to present their salads in Kilner jars, layering up custom picked ingredients such as kale, micro leaves, walnuts and salmon to make a visually stunning and sustainable personalised dish. More on the wacky side, Crisp Salad in Dallas have an interesting Curry Waldorf, involving herb grilled chicken, romaine, grapes, tea infused raisins, marinated apple, coriander, walnuts and curry dressing!

The US has also seen yoghurt being transformed from a syrupy fruity sweet snack to a hearty, vegetable packed dish with ingredients such as pine nuts, poppy seeds, sesame, garlic and onion! Sohha Savory Yogurt in New York City’s Chelsea Market is serving up tangy, Middle Eastern-style strained yogurt with seasonings like za’atar. With the US Pret adapting some of its sandwich recipes according to the savoury yogurt trends, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before these re-vamped yogurts hit our shores.

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Meanwhile in the UK, independent sandwich outlets in London such as Leon and POD are leading the way in salad innovation with recipes of complex layers of flavours and textures, including Leon’s shredded kale and peanut salad and EAT’s roasted aubergine, chia seed, coriander and feta salad with tahini miso dressing. London’s new restaurant The Dressing Room takes a unique view of salads serving filling and delicious dishes full of inventive textures, with an emphasis on, you’ve guessed it, the dressing.

Of course catering for vegetarian options isn’t the only way you can do your bit in a professional kitchen. Reducing food waste can offset your carbon footprint in the kitchen too. New gadgets are continually being invented to help out, such as Breath, helping to cultivate micro leaves in your kitchen with no fuss. In addition the Fresh4Longer food rinse, which naturally removes potentially hazardous mould from accumulating on food, reducing waste.

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Whether you feel you need to do your bit for the future of the food industry, global production and environment or not, a very attractive by-product of an increased desire for vegetarian options is the relatively low cost of producing an innovative and complex dish that will sell with higher margin.

Author:Caroline Kelly, Creative Marketing Executive

Source: The Independent / The Foodpeople

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