As awareness increases about the need to eat less and better meat and dairy, Heidi Spurrell surveyed 32 leading chefs from across the world to find out how they are responding. They told her:
- Health, environment and animal welfare are driving change. Chefs are incredibly aware of the ecological and public health concerns that overconsumption of meat and dairy poses. The chefs explained that they were keen to prioritise local, organic, and ethically sourced ingredients.
- Meat and two veg meals are outdated. Chefs are seeing a cultural shift away from this western eating norm. Chefs were familiar with the ‘less and better meat’ message and they understand that there is increasing awareness of the impact that food has on both health and environment. There is an opportunity to learn from other cultures who use meat and dairy as a seasoning or in a complimentary way rather than a focal point.
- Menu formulation matters. Chefs explained that they are normalising eating less meat, by creatively changing behaviour by experimenting with menu design, changing the ratio of meat to veg on a plate and offering more veg dishes.
- 2019 is going to be a big year for plant-based eating, especially with the growth in interest of new protein sources and products. More and more chefs are designing delicious plant dishes and experimenting with alternatives to meat protein.
- Culinary training is behind the times. The focus is still too heavily on meat and fish protein. The consensus is that training is not meeting demand and more needs to be done in educating future students. Technical training and apprenticeships can address this by offering creative spaces for learning and sharing ideas.
'I feel like there is a lot of education and experience missing in the culinary world on how to prepare plant based food. The meal should not only be delicious and live up to the standards of mainstream food, but the meal should also be nutritious and satisfying. For this reason, also knowledge in nutrition is important, since if the meal is lacking nutrients the client will still have the feeling he didn't have enough in the end.' Chef Alexander Gershberg, Vegan Sundays.
The Chefs' Manifesto in support of the Sustainable Development Goals, developed with over 130 chefs from 38 countries, serves as a great hub and information point for chefs to take action and inspire others.
Heidi is interested in building on this research, particularly the novel idea of setting meat and fish dishes as sides or reducing quantities through choice editing and menu reengineering.
Please do get in touch with Heidi, if you would like to hear more about this research or are interested in exploring future research projects.