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Special Report7. October 2020

THE FUTURE OF FOOD 5: From Hollywood to Burger Joint: Flexitarian Turn Menus Upside Down

And the Oscar goes to… Flexitarian! Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck created a menu with 18 added vegan dishes for his buffet at the Oscar’s – on top of the “usual” meat and fish dishes such as smoked salmon, wagyu beef, and caviar for the Hollywood stars. With his menu Puck jumped on the flexitarian trend wagon – emphasizing plant-based foods, but also leaving wiggle room for those with an occasional meaty indulgence. Sustainability and health concerns are helping to drive the trend and increased plant-based protein options have more people experimenting with these new food options. Flexitarian lifestyles are increasingly prevalent as veganism still is often seen as an aggressive concept of battle. On the other hand, dropping the phrase „plant-based diet“ sounds hip when talking about nutrition these days.

Plant-based burgers for example went mainstream with fast food giants Burger King and McDonald’s joining the fray. While of course the usual beef and chicken burgers are still immensely popular, Burger King’s veggie burger „Impossible Whopper“ was so successful there are multiple vegetarian options now being planned.

Fish substitutes are entering the market too, including for example the American Good Catch Foods’ tuna made from a blend of peas, lentils, beans, and algae oil. Such alternative proteins cut down greenhouse gas emissions associated with livestock farming and industrial-scale fishing.

At the international food fair Grüne Woche in Berlin the world premiere of the „Incredible Wurst“ was celebrated: The vegan frying sausage from Nestlés brand Gourmet Garden consists of soy, carrots, sweet pepper,  beetroot, and coconut oil and is already available in supermarkets. The producers are optimistic, as the eco-consciousness among the consumers is rising which recent figures demonstrate: The estimated turnover of vegetarian and vegan products has been about 1,2 billion Euros in 2019 in Germany alone – the mother country of the “wurst” (sausage). Only for „veggie-meat“, the Germans spent 141 Euros in 2018, and the estimations are growing.

In neighboring Austria the flexitarian lifestyle is followed by the start-up Rebel Meat:  The young company produces burgers – made half from meat, half from mushrooms. In 2021 the meat proportion shall be reduced to 25 percent. „Our vision is to replace it in the future by cultivated meat“, says co-founder Cornelia Habacher.

It seems that the „plant-based revolution“ is going on, slowly but steadily.

THE FUTURE OF FOOD 6: Vodka Shots become sooo Old School, as Ginger and Beet Root Take over follows next Wednesday, October 14.

Written by Marika Schaertl, freelance journalist, Munich, Germany.

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