Food sources of plant based protein.

Using added plant power (APP) in dishes like fillings, curries, and wet entrees can indeed offer several benefits, including encouraging healthier eating habits, being planet aware and potentially mitigating the high cost of meat. However, there are considerations regarding hidden allergens and cost that need to be addressed.

Hidden allergens: While plant-based proteins can be an excellent alternative for those with meat allergies or dietary restrictions, they may introduce new allergens into dishes. For example, soy protein, a common plant-based protein source, is a known allergen for some individuals. Additionally, other ingredients commonly used in plant-based protein products, such as pulses and members of the legume family including Peanuts, can also be allergenic for certain people. It is essential for restaurants and caterers to clearly label their products and dishes to indicate potential allergens, helping customers make informed choices and avoid allergens they may be sensitive to. So, an infused chilli burrito with red kidney beans, reads best straight on the menu!

Cost considerations: The cost of meat can be a significant factor for both consumers and food businesses. Plant-based proteins often offer a more cost-effective alternative to meat, especially when considering factors like production, transportation, and environmental impact. By incorporating added plant protein into dishes, restaurants can offer more affordable menu options without compromising on taste or nutritional value. This can attract budget-conscious consumers and help diversify menu offerings.

But there is also the cost of missed nutrients especially in care, education, or health settings where nutrients from meat are ‘part and parcel’ of a customer’s overall dietary plan. Businesses therefore need to explore and even get support from dietician experts when considering alternative nutrients in non-meat dishes.

It is great to see colleagues in the public sector really embracing plant-based dishes and the culinary landscape has changed enormously in the last couple of decades. There are new products on the market and thanks to the efforts of the creative chefs out there, we are not stuck with cauliflower cheese as the only veggie option!!

When looking at menus and recipes that incorporate less meat and more plant protein consider doing the following:

  1. Boldly describe the less obvious ingredient “Tomato and Lentil Sauce” on the menu
  2. Promote your Five a Day – we do our best to get more fruits and vegetables in every dish we do!
  3. Taste test with your customer s- challenge the meat lovers to try it!

In summary, while added plant protein can be a promising ingredient for creating healthier, more affordable dishes, it is crucial for food establishments to be mindful of potential hidden allergens and to transparently communicate ingredient information to consumers. Additionally, leveraging plant-based proteins can help mitigate the excessive cost of meat while still providing satisfying and nutritious meal options.

Julian Edwards FIH, FCSI, CFSP – CEO of Allergen Accreditation