Why Is Plant-Based Meat Now a Menu Must-Have?
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Research has found that plant-based diets reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory problems—all of which can increase the severity of the coronavirus. On top of that, months of sheltering in place have made consumers anxious about weight gain, or the “quarantine 15.”

We all expected COVID-19 to create greater demand for food delivery services and comfort food, but the spike in plant-based meat sales wasn’t on everyone’s radar.
 
A recent Nielsen report found that demand for plant-based meat surged 278 percent since this time last year. This surge occurs as meatpacking plants undergo coronavirus outbreaks. Although no evidence suggests that the virus can spread through food, consumers still question meat safety, as well as availability.
 
COVID-19’s spread at meatpacking plants has been a driving force for the plant-based meat market, but not the only one. Research has found that plant-based diets reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory problems—all of which can increase the severity of the coronavirus. On top of that, months of sheltering in place have made consumers anxious about weight gain, or the “quarantine 15.” 
 
Given these circumstances, consumers are willing to pay more for plant-based products. We’ve come up with a couple of ideas for substituting meat without sacrificing flavor in menus. 

 

Guilt-Free Comfort
 
Plant-based foods aren’t the only items consumers are ordering. Plenty are seeking out good, old-fashioned comfort food. Comfort food isn’t known for withholding meat and animal products. However, chefs can easily substitute plant-based alternatives into familiar recipes. 
 
Plant-based burgers are the most famous examples. Impossible Burgers and Beyond Burgers are known for capturing the sumptuous taste of a beef patty. But plant-based meat isn’t just for burgers. Plant-based sausage, ground beef, and meatballs can serve as delicious substitutes in rice casseroles, beef-a-roni, and spaghetti and meatballs. These options are great for appealing to both kids and flexitarians.
 
A Meatless BBQ? 
 
With the weather warming up and parks reopening, consumers will order more and more barbecue to eat beside the pool or on picnics. But meat isn’t required to fire up the grill. Even the most devout carnivores will have their mouths watering over a delicious plant-based barbecue.
 
Jackfruit, for example, has a chewy texture that makes it the perfect meat substitute, particularly for pulled pork. Tofu can also be prepared to mimic the taste of pork or chicken and works well with a variety of seasonings and sauces. Roasted, seasoned carrots fit nicely into hot dog buns to replace your standard beef franks. Venturing outside of meat to put a twist on classic barbecue entrees can provide consumers with a memorable meal. 
 
Nutritious and Delicious Recipes
 
Plant-based diets have been proven to provide ample health benefits, but that doesn’t mean all plant-based foods are healthy. Many plant-based meat products are still heavily processed and have the same calorie content as the meat they’re imitating. However, not all plant-based meat is created equal, and some are packed with nutrients. 
 
Seitan, known as “wheat meat,” is a popular vegetarian option in China that is low in carbs, high in minerals, and able to imitate the texture of meat. Lentils can substitute ground beef and taco meat to reduce calories and boost bone and heart health. Chickpea nuggets can fool kids into thinking they’re eating chicken while improving digestion and weight management. 
 
Preparation is also key to adding nutrition. Chefs can use plant-based meats in healthy Buddha bowls, fry them with almond flour in rice bran oil, or pile them with vegetables on top of a cauliflower crust to make vegan pizza. 
 
Your Sourcing Solution 
 
In addition to addressing consumer concerns, plant-based meats give chefs an opportunity to play with traditional recipes and experiment with new flavors and textures. There’s a big world of meat substitutes and plant-based food to explore. 
 
Exploration begins by visiting our COVID-19 Food & Packaging Essentials website. There, you’ll find our picks for in-demand, ready-to-ship products for restaurants as they navigate the pandemic. That includes our large selection of plant-based meats. 
 
Make sure you have meat substitutes to meet demand. Shop plant-based products on our website today.