Wednesday 1st June, London, UK – The warm weather has arrived and barbeque hosts are locking dates in the diaries and planning their spreads – and with 8.8 million Brits set to go meat-free this year (up 22% YOY)1, the hosting ‘steaks’ have never been higher.
Plant-based food brand Garden Gourmet has ‘grilled’ the public and found it’s easier than ever for crowd-pleasing barbeque hosts to cater for changing UK dietary requirements; 36 per cent of 2,000 carnivores surveyed2 say the amount of plant-based options in supermarkets now makes it easier to provide alternatives for their guests.
However, the study also revealed Brits remain unsure of how to ensure all their guests are happy, with one in four admitting they would feel unprepared if they knew a vegetarian was coming to their barbeque, whilst one in five would feel ‘stressed or confused’, and 18 per cent say they would have no idea what to serve.
Laura Mack, Senior Brand Manager, Garden Gourmet, said: “The research shows that when it comes to hosting summer barbeques, hosts can feel unsure about what to serve guests with vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian dietary requirements, but there are many options for meat-free barbeques today that mean you don’t need to compromise on taste, including succulent and delicious vegan burgers, juicy fillet pieces, and sizzling sausages.
“Garden Gourmet understands that if you’re not familiar with cooking meat-free items, it can seem daunting, but there are easy ways to switch out meat-based products for vegan alternatives that all guests will enjoy.
“We’d like to think we’re here to making hosting easy, because our range is a one-stop-shop solution for everyone.”
The study also found, of the 45 per cent who worry about pleasing their veggie or vegan guests, top reasons include not wanting to buy the wrong thing and offend them, and feeling under pressure to provide decent alternatives. Others don’t want to have to clean the barbeque in-between cooking and admit being unsure how to cook plant-based food.
Indeed, 42 per cent have invited a vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian guest to a barbeque in the past – with a quarter of those admitting they asked the guest to bring their own food. A third provided meat alternatives which the guests didn’t like, and 22 per cent simply forgot to buy meat-free options.
However, a successful 50 per cent bought vegetarian or vegan substitutes which their guests enjoyed.
Whilst a third of respondents immediately think of meat when it comes to barbeques, a promising third of meat eaters said they would research the best alternatives if buying food for a veggie or vegan guest, whilst 26 per cent would buy plenty of options, hoping that one or two would be liked.
But almost half admitted they have served meat to veggie or vegan guests when hosting a barbeque in the past – resulting in guests leaving (27 per cent) or throwing food away (22 per cent).
It also emerged nearly half of those polled via OnePoll aren’t confident they know what foods vegetarians can and can’t eat, while 72 per cent are confused by which condiments are allowed.
Aside from providing for dietary requirements, other aspects of hosting a barbeque which hosts worry about included not buying enough food, a lack of room inside if it rains, and running out of plates or glasses.
Alex Head, Founder of Social Pantry and expert caterer and party host, said: “The research suggests more and more people want to be able to cater in a plant based way and accommodate dietary requirements, but that there is still a lot of uncertainty about what this looks like. Luckily, there are some really easy ways to keep everyone happy!
“The huge range of plant based alternatives in supermarkets that replicate the flavour and texture of meat or dairy provide direct swaps, however adopting a more veg focused approach to feeding a crowd has the ability to benefit everyone!
“I always suggest shifting the emphasis from a centrepiece to side dishes – not only are they delicious and often people’s favourite part of a meal, but having lots of vibrant colourful dishes on the table conveys that sense of generous abundance that makes people feel relaxed about tucking in, and by offering a range of choices, there is bound to be something for everyone.
“Start with great produce – from beautiful salad leaves to the best bread – and invest in dips, condiments and sauces that can transform the simplest of meals. Sharing food is a fundamental way in which we connect with other people, but separate dietary requirements can create divides within a group.
“Remember that veg centric food is for everyone – not just vegetarian and vegans – so rather than catering a small amount separately for your plant based guests, make enough for everyone so that you’re all eating the same, with meat/fish as an optional add on. If you focus on making your veg dishes great, everyone will be happy!”
Indeed, when it comes to catering to vegans, vegetarians and flexitarian guests, there are simple vegan solutions perfect for grilling available to hosts which don’t require buying additional products or resulting in upset guests: