If you’re a vegetarian, or simply a lover of fresh vegetables, consider this the perfect time to dine out. Just as it goes with rock n’ roll – fresh, healthy vegetables are here to stay. In fact vegetables are increasingly taking center stage on menus across the country.
This new trend in serving vegetables isn’t entirely motivated by sustainability and local sourcing but through Chefs desire to expand their culinary muscle and creativity. Chefs are finding it a fun challenge to present lowly vegetable in unique and flavorful side dished and entrees.
The increased use of fresh vegetables is resulting in guests finding out that vegetables actually taste great…especially when in season and carefully prepared.
Fresh vegetables have enjoyed a 11% increase on menus nationally with the most popular being kale. This leafy, dark-green vegetable has seen a 400% increase on restaurant menus over the past five years. Americans are finding a meal made of carefully prepared vegetables can be just as satisfying as traditional meat and potatoes.
Much of this can be credited to the millennials. Gen X and Gen Y are keenly interested in the types of foods they eat and the affect it has on their bodies. These individuals grew up during a time when their parents wrestled with press releases and potential negative effects from foods being recalled because they were tainted during production or were found to have cancer-causing ingredients in them. In addition this generation gets most of their information from social media and the creative preparation methods being used with colorful vegetables can be a huge motivator to sample them.
Center of the Plate
As of late there are two terms being used to in part describe this trend. Vegivores or Pegans. In both cases this refers to diets consisting primarily of vegetables dominating the center of the plate and meat-supplying flavoring or acting as a secondary condiment. A classic example is seared Brussels sprouts with apple wood smoked bacon providing a rich flavoring for the Brussels sprouts.
The term Pegans is the combination of Paleo and vegan. Pegan designates a person wanting to their diet to be dominated by vegetables and grains with smaller portions of meat playing a secondary role.
All this attention to vegetables has had several positive effects to our health and our economy as a nation less fat and better nutrition as well as local sourcing make us healthier and reduce the carbon footprint.