Plant-based foods



Meat, dairy, and eggs have been key ingredients on restaurant menus for a long time. While they still earn their place at the table, demand is rising for meatless or even animal-free alternatives. According to research from Datassential, 1 in 3 customers are either cutting back on meat or dropping it entirely. That’s a large piece of the market on the lookout for restaurants offering plant-based meals. Turn this to your advantage, without turning your menu upside down. Explore ingredients that put a plant-based twist on classic dishes throughout the day.

New Day, New Food

Use veggie sausage and plant-based eggs and cheese to add options to breakfast favorites. Any plate with a side of sausage links can be made potentially meatless with a note that veggie sausage is available (and a matching purchase for your stockroom). The same goes for breakfast sandwiches that use sausage patties, and gravies and scrambles that use crumbled sausage. All these alternatives store and cook a lot like their meat versions, making it easy to add them to your menu without messing up your staff’s workflow. Plant-based eggs — made from beans that recreate egg’s texture, taste, and protein content — are similarly low impact. They scramble like normal, when bought in liquid form, and also come as patties for easy-prep egg sandwiches. Just add some plant-based cheese, which comes pre-shredded and ready to melt, just like the dairy version, and you’ve moved all the breakfast classics listed above from potentially meatless to potentially animal-free. People who want that option (plus all their friends!) can now join your crowd of morning regulars.

Midday Magic

Give new range to lunchtime sandwiches by seamlessly supplying plant-based chicken and beef. Realistic meat substitutes have advanced significantly in recent years, letting operators and patrons try skipping meat without disturbing familiar recipes. Morningstar’s Incogmeato tenders crisp up and tear apart just like any chef or diner would want, and are right at home in subs and sandwiches, from buffalo chicken to chicken parm. Beyond Meat patties deliver a similarly strong experience for burgers. By thoughtfully mixing a range of plant-based ingredients, they arrive at a complete package that provides the same nutrients as meat, as well as desirable qualities like sizzle, juiciness, texture, and color. To round out your sandwich substitutes, take a look at the latest bean and veggie burgers. These mimic meat less directly, instead leaning into the unique appeal of their plant ingredients. People love a well-spiced bean and veggie burrito, or a flavorful chickpea salad. The chance to try something similar in burger form can tempt vegetarians and meat-eaters, alike.

A Fresh Start for Dinner

Turn to produce for an alternative core for dinner dishes. Pastas, salads, and rice mixes often feature meat as their eye-catching main ingredient, along with a tasty sauce or dressing. There’s no reason, however, that the star can’t be an eye-catching plant! Jackfruit does well here, with a memorable name and fruit that — when extracted and marinated properly — closely resembles chunks of pulled pork. It’s lower in protein than pork, though, so you’ll want to pair it with other protein-rich veggies to build a filling menu item. Beans and peas are great in this support role, but they can also make a meal on their own. Chickpeas stand out in salad (promising substance and variety to vegetarians sick of iceberg lettuce), and black-eyed peas offer pops of color and flavor that can easily sell a rich rice dish. Avocado shines in both of these entree types, too, offering protein, healthy fats, and a unique color, texture, and flavor. For pasta, nuts and mushrooms perfectly complement sauces like pesto or marsala, providing a non-meat option that many might actually prefer.

Alternative Add-ons

Plant-based variety doesn’t have to stay locked in the three main meals — try alternative milks and other additions to create animal-free drink and dessert options. If you sell coffee or tea, offer plant milks (like oat or soy) as well as the standard range of dairy. This serves people who are lactose intolerant, vegans, and even those who just like the way a certain plant milk tastes. All of these people will be more likely to buy a beverage if they can get the milk they want with it. For desserts, don’t fill your menu entirely with butter! Keep an item or two — maybe a cookie or mousse — in the animal-free zone, by cooking with plant-based oils like coconut cream. Cocktails provide another place for a clever plant-based alternative. Flips usually rely on egg whites to get their foamy tops. You can do the same job with aquafaba (the reserved liquid from chickpeas), and open a whole class of drinks up to the widest range of customers.

Plant-based alternative foods are a growing area of consumer interest. At Florida Food Service, we’re committed to helping you find the ingredients to successfully meet that demand. Talk to your sales rep today about our plant-based products. If you’re looking to expand your stock of fruits and vegetables, ask to get in contact with our produce specialist, too.  

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