Last week at the Eat + Sleep conference, a hospitality design event at London's Kensington Olympia, our Creative Director, Matt Utber, gave a brief talk about Food Trends, and in particular about Ethical Eating. The aim was to highlight some of the issues confronting the planet and showcase some of the businesses and ideas that were helping to make a difference.
With 13% of the UK population vegans or veggies, a further 25% aiming to reduce their meat consumption, the EU banning single-use plastics by 2020, and the city of Austin, Texas aiming to become zero-waste in 2040, you could argue that this is more than a food trend, but a cultural shift.
Recognising that the meat eaters of Earth aren't about to stop overnight there are a lot of restaurants and food business out their changing the focus of their menus from meat to plants and vegetables.
Yotam Ottolenghi's newest opening in London, Rovi, serves a seriously tasty menu where the main focus is on the vegetable dishes rather than the meat plates. They also recycle the heat from the kitchen into heat for diners, and use fermentation and fire to add flavour and depth.
Gravetye Manor in East Grinstead creates a vegetarian taster menu, where many of the ingredients are grown in its vast gardens and orchards, winning chef George Blogg a Michelin star in the process.
Similarly in Monmouthshire, Chris Harrod and his team spend a great part of each day foraging in the Welsh countryside, collecting hogweed, maritime pine and hedgerow pickings to include in their Michelin starred menu for the Whitebrook.
People are being more conscious of what they drink, when they drink, and if they drink at all. In order to keep up, bars are creating drinks and cocktails that offer more than just an alcoholic kick using ingredients like matcha tea, turmeric and kombucha.
Seedlip is a non-alcoholic spirit, that promises gin-like botanical flavours and offers a more sophisticated alternative to soft drinks and mocktails. It's all supported by a carefully crafted brand that creates a more refined, elegant mood.
Kombucha is increasingly available on tap in pubs across the UK, and British brand Real Kombucha will soon be rolled out to 320 Fullers' pubs. The fermented tea drink offers a more unique, adult taste and is used by drinkers as an alcohol-free alternative to beer.
Natural wines, created organically without the use of artificial preservatives like sulfites are also becoming more popular in London's restaurants, including Neptune at The Bloomsbury, P Franco and The Laughing Heart
A third of all food thats produced globally is wasted, in the UK this amounts to 600,000 tonnes of waste. There's a kilo of waste produced for every meal served in restaurants, which costs restaurants in the uk an estimated £682 million
There are some crazy and revealing statistics about how much food we waste.
Thankfully, there are some positive examples of chefs and restaurants fighting these mental stats.
This year at Selfridges, Dan Barber's wastED popped up for a few months featuring stellar guest chefs creating lunch and dinner from ingredients that would otherwise been thrown out. The rotating list of chefs included Alain Ducasse, Pierre Kofman, Tom Kerridge and Nuno Mendes.
In Brighton, the UK's only zero-waste restaurant, Silo, continues to break ground with a menu that has successfully eliminated waste by composting every scrap and piece of leftover food directly on-site. they crush all their waste glass, that's then transformed into crockery by a local potter and the chairs and other furniture are all upcycled from old stock.
Silo's owner Dan McMaster has joined forces with award-winning bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana to create Cub in Hoxton, where every dish served at the restaurant centers around a single ingredient and is conceived to minimize waste. The downstairs bar Super Lyan, serve waste free cocktails, although mostly alcoholic!
The Zero-Waste movement is obviously not confined to the UK and in Copenhagen, Ammass, headed by former Noma Head Chef, Matthew Orlando, serve contemporary, organic cuisine with a strict focus on locally sourced ingredients. They have an 800-square meter garden situated directly in front of the dining room that produce organic ingredients, and have a real commitment to reducing waste with Orlando evangalising across the globe with talks and articles.
FOOD FOR GOOD
Not just good, plant-focussed food, but also food with the power to effect social change.
Food for Soul is a non-profit organisation founded by chef Massimo Bottura and his wife Lara Gilmore. Its aim is to empower communities to fight food waste through social inclusion. They create inspiring and vibrant community spaces open to all, and each project is different and is shaped on the needs of the local community.
Here in London, the Refettorio Felix At St.Cuthberts takes waste surplus ingredients and transforms them into delicious three-course lunches. They nourish people living on or below the breadline, this includes rough sleepers, homeless people, those with mental health issues and substance misuse issues.
Made in Hackney, is a local plant-based community food kitchen based in Hackney, East London. The charity runs a programme of food and cooking classes for people with social and health issues, and is all about creating a brighter, healthier future for local people and their communities.
The successful charity hopes to become a model that will roll out across the UK and Europe.
There’s a reason vegan restaurants are busy with only 13% of the population, vegans travel!
Not only do Plant-based restaurants have a way of creating a buzz, but there are some serious tech and apps around to help vegans hook up with good food.
Launched in 1999, Happy Cow is a world guide to vegetarian and vegan restaurants. The number of listings has expanded to over 50,000 businesses in over 175 countries, and there are now over 300,000 users globally.
Launched as a pop up in 2017, Fat, Gay Vegan Street-Food Markets now have three permanent sites.
Serving plant-based food Saturday and Sunday, there are over 50 vendors in total, and people travel from all over London and Europe to eat there. It’s a great communal experience with lots of choice, which is unusual for vegans.
Despite only launching in September 2018, Genesis ( which The Plant did all the original positioning and design) now has over 10,000 Instagram followers in what is a rather Instagramable experience!