By Karin Ridgers, director of www.veggievision.tv, “MC” at VegfestUK. Karin also advises Center Parcs, the Mail Online and writes for Leona Lewis’s blog too.
Over the past five years the word vegan has become rather sexy and cool – and even better is that catering for a meat-free, plant-based diet is very easy.
So why plant-based? There is a growing breed of people UK and worldwide who will travel for miles out of their way to be catered for. They are very loyal and will certainly carry out a great deal of promotion for you, telling friends, family and contacts about you for no cost once you look after their needs. On the whole they tend to be happy to splash out and simply love food and eating out. Also their dishes are suitable for practically everyone and unopened ingredients can last for months in the fridge.
Once you decide to stand out from the others and cater for us loyal customers put a sign in your window, flyers on the counter, contact the local media, maybe even work with some of the veggie and vegan local contacts and have an open evening for them. You must let people know that you are catering for their needs. And use the power of social media, post delicious images of your vegan options and watch them being liked and shared….
First things first
• Make sure your vegan utensils are kept separate from the ones you use to prepare meat. A vegan sausage sandwich is not acceptable if it is cooked with the meat sausages either.
• Make sure that there is a separate space for grilling or a new pan for frying.
• Pizza Hut even use different coloured handles on their pizza servers – green for veggie pizzas and black for meat ones. This is appreciated by their veggie customers.
• You can get a dairy-free version of everything now – vegan cheese, dairy-free margarine, yoghurt, ice cream – even snitchels, hotdogs, bacon and mince.
• Longlife soya milk can be kept for about a year in the cupboard. It makes a much nicer, frothier latte and is delicious in porridge too.
• Easy steps could be to make sure that one of your soups is always meat and dairy free – no meat stock or butter. • Check ingredients of pasta – dried pasta is usually egg-free and therefore vegan friendly.
• And think of other ingredients that you have that could add some pizzazz to a plain salad – avocado, apple, raisins, pineapple, sweet potatoes, asparagus, raw onions, raw mushrooms, sweetcorn….
• Dessert is an area that has yet to be worked out properly vegan-wise by the catering trade – I have no idea why! You will be a huge winner to your potential new loyal clients if you offer anything except fruit salad.
• Again there is a dairy-free version of cream, yoghurt and ice cream. Cakes, flapjacks and more can be made or even bought in