You may recently have seen an increase in the number of plant-based products available during your weekly shopping, as well as when you’re eating out. This week is Public Sector Catering Plant-Based Week, so we thought we would shed some light on what the term plant-based means, why it’s becoming so popular and what we have been doing at Mellors to support our sites to offer more plant-based options.

What is plant-based food?

This term means that the food comes from plant sources such as vegetables, fruit, beans, seeds, nuts and grains as opposed to from animal sources like, seafood, eggs, dairy, honey and meat. If you choose to follow a diet solely made up of plant-based foods, you might class yourself as a vegan.

Why has plant-based food become so popular?

People choose a vegan diet for a variety of different reasons, including concerns about the environment, the treatment of animals, for health reasons or because of taste and social pressure.

For the Planet - From farm to fork, the production of animal products is taxing on our planet - from the crops and water needed to feed the animals, to the space, packaging and transportation.

Huge areas are needed to grow food for animal consumption, which leads to deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction.

By changing the types of foods we eat and how often we eat them, it is possible to ease the pressures on the global food system.If everyone swapped one red meat meal to a plant-based meal once per week is the equivalent of taking 16million cars of the road each year.

For the Animals - A large proportion of people choosing to eat fewer animal products or remove them from their diets completely, do so to prevent cruelty to animals and to protect animals’ right to life. Choosing a plant-based meal means compassion and empathy are on your plate.

For your Health - Plant-based food can be healthier than its meat and dairy counterparts. Why? When eating plant-based, you’ll tend to eat more good stuff like fruit and vegetables, foods with more fibre and less saturated fats. This can help contribute to a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers.

Does dietary advice recommend following a plant-based diet?

Dietary advice across the world recommends increasing the number of plant-based foods in our diets for a number of reasons. Here are just a couple:

  • Research shows us that there is a strong correlation between high intakes of red and processed meat and increased risk of colorectal cancer. Therefore, switching from red meat and processed meat once or twice a week for plant-based options would be beneficial.
  • Switching to more plant-based foods will likely increase your consumption of fruit & vegetables, wholegrains and pulses and therefore increase your fibre intake. Diets consisting of more plant-based foods like vegan and vegetarian are linked with reduced risk of heart disease, strokes and type 2 diabetes 

However, if you choose to eat only plant-based foods, it is important to plan and choose carefully as there is a risk of not getting enough of important vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and calcium. These are all extremely important for healthy development, particularly in childhood and are most commonly found in foods that come from animals. Plant-based foods are generally naturally lower in saturated fat and salt, however, they can still be processed and cooked in unhealthy ways just like any other foods so read food labels and choose carefully.

Plant-Powered Kitchen by Mellors

At Mellors Catering Services we love to create innovative and healthy food that meets the needs and preferences of our customers. We have seen an increase in demand for plant-based foods across our business, so we have listened to customers’ views, done our research and created our Plant-Powered Kitchen range.

Part of our role feeding students in education is to support and encourage our customers to develop healthy eating habits and educate them on what a healthy balanced diet is. As our customers are predominantly children at a time of their lives when they are growing and developing rapidly, we need to be sure they are getting the right balance of nutrients they need whilst at school. With this in mind, we are not advocating our units develop solely plant-based menus but incorporate more plant-based dishes across the menu. Although we already had a number of vegetarian dishes that were plant-based, we felt it was important to have a wider variety available.

Our range includes recipes packs for Primary and Secondary schools full of innovative plant-based recipes suitable for vegans. This also includes a cold grab & go range for our Secondary and Business & Industry sites with supporting ingredient labels to supplement our Natasha’s Law range.

To promote these dishes to our customers and educate them on the benefits of choosing more plant-based foods, we have developed a suite of marketing materials, including logos for menus, posters and leaflets packed full of educational information. For primary schools, we have developed fun plant-based characters and stickers to encourage pupils to try something.

And last but not least….

Mellors Plant-Powered Pop-Up

Our plant-powered pop-up is a great opportunity for customers to explore different plant-based food samples and is the perfect flavoursome package to bring your restaurant alive!

Our pop up will be showcased in our restaurants at lunch time with a range of free food samples and resources. A great way to introduce our customers to our new range of dishes and discuss the many benefits to being plant powered at school.