Our team recently took part in the Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit at the Culinary Institute of America’s Copia Campus. The event offered up a bumper crop of plant-forward inspiration, with top-notch chefs from across the nation and even across the pond coming together to share their success strategies for putting more plants and a little less meat on the menu. Here are a few of our top takeaways:
#1 Be Plant-Forward, Not Plant-Only
When building more plant-based eating into your menu, work with a “plant-forward” mindset, not “plants-only.” Vegetarians and vegans are an important audience to cater to, but they are not the largest one. According to Datassential and other data sources, about 30% of Americans are looking to eat less meat, and more than half are trying to eat more plants. The right move is to meet them halfway; making it easy to enjoy foods they love with a little less meat.
“We should think about grains as produce – you’re eating plants, they are nutritious and sustainable.” -Chef Roxana Jullapat, Friends & Family, Los Angeles
Pasta is a great example here – a most-loved food (85% love/like it!) and ready-made vehicle for craveable, plant-forward meals. Here are a few of our favorites.
#2 Less Analog, More Authenticity
Across the presentations and conversation among attendees, there was a general consensus that it’s a better choice to build plant-forward dishes with real produce and grains, not analogs that are trying to be like meat. As the appeal of highly-processed meat substitutes continues to wane, let’s keep it real.
“The best way to eat less meat is to make your vegetables extra delicious” -Ixta Belfrage, London-based cookbook author and recipe developer
#3 Fermentation for the Win
Fermented ingredients were everywhere at this conference, and for good reason. With fermented foods topping the superfoods lists, and being amazingly versatile flavor builders, there’s a lot to like. House-fermented rhubarb ginger beer? Miso meunière? Lacto-fermented Chinese Mustard greens? It was all delicious, and definitely had the attending chefs buzzing. More on this topic to come in future issues!