Vegetarianism: The Challenge of the Kitchen
One of the first fans of the vegetarian diets was Pythagoras, the Greek mathematician, from around (569 - 475 B.C.). He felt that there was a connection between all living things and did not eat the flesh of slaughtered animals. In the 19th century his followers were referred to as Pythagoreans. Now in the 21st century many more categories of Vegetarians have developed.
- Vegan: Person who eats no meat, fish or poultry or any products that are made from animals such as milk, cheese, eggs, honey or gelatin.
- Raw Foodist: Vegan who eats only raw or slightly warmed plant foods. They feel that cooking (temperature of 116 degrees or above) destroys nutrients and enzymes in food. They are also known as “living foodists.”
- Fructarian: Person who eats only fruits, nuts, seeds and other plant products that can be gathered without harming the plant itself.
- Ovo-vegetarian: Person who eats eggs but not dairy products.
- Ovo-lacto-vegetarian: Person who eats plant products along with dairy products such as eggs. Typically they prefer to eat dairy from farms that are known as factory farms and cheese that does not contain animal based enzymes such as rennet. They are the most common form of vegetarian.
- Lacto-vegetarian: Vegetarian who eats dairy products but not eggs.
- Demi-vegetarian: Vegetarian who will eat fish.
- Macrobioticist: Person who follows the diet from Japan in the 1920’s that is based on eating brown rice, miso and sea vegetables (seaweed).
As overwhelming as the above information may seem - fear not, for we have suggestions to help the Chef reformat the Center of The Plate.
- Use items from your current menu: Many of the items your staff is already used to can be changed slightly to become a vegetarian offering such as soups, salads, pasta dishes and rice dishes.
- Use grains and beans: they add texture and mouth feel to a dish. This gives the customer a better feeling of satisfaction after a meal whereas just steamed veggies may not.
- Use meat like vegetables: items like mushrooms, okra, sweet potatoes, potatoes, nopales, eggplant, turnips, parsnips and squash add a heartier feel to a food item in place of the normal proteins a chef is used to handling.
- Layer flavors in order to excite the palate.
- Have a vegetarian product supply to meet the modern customer’s needs.
- Build a library of ethnic based cookbooks from cultures that have embraced a vegetarian style of cooking. Such as Asian, Spanish, Middle Eastern, Indian and South American.
Try These Recipes:
Embrace your new customer base and they in turn will embrace you as a leader in the industry.
Southwestern Bean Soup »
Falafel Pita »
Tortellini with Butternut Squash and Broccoli Sauce »
Chef Lonnie Varisco, Center of the Plate Specialist, Performance Foodservice/Roma - Caro