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Power of the Plant? By Kristine Østergaard

06022017 Power to the Plants

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As referenced in our summary of 2017 food trends, there are a number of food and drink movements which look set to influence our dining decisions over the coming months. But how does a trend manifest itself in our daily lives and in what situations are we exposed to them? Do we explore at home, on-the-go or head out to get a taste of what’s predicted for 2017? And to what degree do we let the media and social hype influence our preferences for the items we consume on a daily basis?

The focus on healthier and cleaner lifestyles has sharpened and consequently triggered a growing interest in vegetarian and vegan products, naturally heightening the demand on such groceries and the number of people following these diets. As a result, supermarkets are continually upgrading their range of products to include the ingredients vital in vegetarian and vegan diets, formerly only found in health food stores or speciality shops. Restaurants are now not only offering vegetarian and vegan options to a higher degree than before, but are using vegetables in ever experimental and innovating ways to make a diet of the ‘powerful plant’ appealing and attracting, even to men and avid meat lovers.

In London, this became very real and present with the opening of the world’s first ever vegan-friendly chicken shop, Temple of Hackney (Seitan), on a rainy Saturday in January. Hundreds of hungry vegans queued in the rain to sample a vegan version of fried ‘chicken’, made from seitan, which is derived from the protein portion of wheat, instead of meat. This might sound a bit dull, but judging the publicity on social media, (“Just had vegan fried chicken from @templeofseitan and it’s the best thing about 2017 so far!”), you’re clearly the one missing out if you haven’t tried this yet.

Vegetarian butchers are popping up across the world and creatively mimicking the meats sold in traditional butcheries, but without containing animal flesh. This is to supply chicken, ham, beef and seafood which purportedly looks, feels and tastes like the real deal but is solely made from plant protein. We’re not expecting traditional butchers to disappear, but plants will certainly gain further power as many are predicting and the vegetarian/vegan diet could possibly become the single biggest movement of 2017.

Surprisingly, or at least to me, choosing to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet also affects your opportunities for drinks to have with your meal. Don’t panic though, you don’t have to juice all your veggies on top of ‘just’ eating them, but for those new to the movement, be aware that many prefabricated drinks include ingredients not suitable for the vegetarian/vegan you. A small number of orange and red-coloured drinks contain gelatin (derived from collagen obtained from various animal by-product) and will be stated on the packing. So, make sure you look out for the vegetarian friendly and vegan trademarks. Regarding alcoholic drinks, it becomes a bit more complicated as some are clarified using protein from animals. To overcome any issues, you can visit barnivore to find out if your favourite booze is vegetarian-/vegan-friendly or if you need to find a new one.

To be honest, even I, a very active athlete in deep need of and truly addicted to chicken, have considered turning my back to current preferred protein sources found in fish and poultry. Why? Because trying out a plant-based diet, sticking to vegetarian dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner has made me and my body feel so much better. Refreshed and light in another way than I have ever tried before. Maybe you should try it yourself?

Ambitious as a change of diet is or can be, it’s only February, so hard to tell whether all this is just an aftermath of the ‘new year, new me’, ‘veganuary’ and other typical trends around New Year, or if it will gradually become a more common way of eating and potentially ‘drinking’, in 2017. Nevertheless, it seems like there’s plenty of opportunity to expose ourselves to the ‘power of the plant’ at home, on-the-go and when going out for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Image courtesy of http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/features/food-trends-2017

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