Food Trends | Vegetables

Indulgent Vegan Dishes That Feed the Soul

Aug 14, 2019

Indulgent Vegan Dishes That Feed the Soul

Vegan is now cool

How did we go from boring and bland to luscious and hip? Lots of reasons, but one clear driving factor, the new plant-based protein options just taste good, and consumers just feel better about eating them.1

The vegan trend is so strong that Forbes magazine and The Economist have both declared 2019 to be the "Year of the Vegan." Maybe that's because fully a quarter of 25- to 34-year-old Americans declare themselves to be vegans or vegetarians.2, 3

Here's a wake-up call if you're thinking this trend will fade: No Bones Beach Club, with locations in Chicago, Seattle and Portland, displays this motto on the front page of their website: "Just because it's vegan doesn't mean it sucks."

A new Atlanta restaurant, The Slutty Vegan, serves some amazing combos, including the Hollywood Hooker Philly -- Chopped "Impossible burger" patty loaded with vegan cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, green peppers, and their "slutty sauce" on a vegan hoagie roll.

And try going to any grocery store in America. Whole sections of the frozen food aisle are devoted to vegetarian dishes, meat substitute breakfast proteins such as bacon and sausage, let alone the traditional veggie lasagna and ravioli.

The new vegan

Moving from the days when vegans were a very small proportion of the population, straight-laced and focused on healthfulness, this younger vegan-friendly population wants plant-based options just as that–-options. Flexitarians, vegans, vegetarians and omnivores are all seeking plant-based options as they consider the environment as well as new eating experiences.

Sure, there are still hard-core vegans who follow this diet mainly for ethical and moral reasons, but they like delicious food too! About 3.2% of all Americans say they follow a vegetarian-based diet, and of these, 0.5% say they are vegan. But, interestingly, another 10% say they are interested in following a vegetarian-based diet.4 So, nearly 15% of the population, and growing, is a target for vegan dishes.

Following that analysis, vegan options are on 11% of American menus, with an expected increase of 36% expected in the next four years, all to meet the demands of the new vegan and vegan-interested population.5

It's not just tofu anymore

Clocking the amount of protein is a key to a main dish's appeal. No one wants to go away hungry and the new protein sources satisfy hunger with both solid food protein value and lots of fiber with a world beyond tofu. Prepared meat-free products are one way to go, but whole natural foods offer lots of other options to pack in the protein.

Check out this list of seeds, grains, fruits and vegetables:

  • Chia seeds: 5 grams of protein per tablespoon, but all 9 essential amino acids––great added to smoothies.

  • Hemp seed: Packed with fiber and omega 3, tasty hemp seeds offer 3.3 grams of protein per tablespoon. Sprinkle on salads or oatmeal.

  • Quinoa: Now popular everywhere, quinoa offers 4 grams of protein per half cup.

  • Amaranth: Another ancient grain with even more protein than quinoa; 4.4 grams per serving. Makes a great hot breakfast cereal.

  • Teff: An ancient grain that's making news with 7 grams of protein in a half cup serving.

  • Buckwheat: 3 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and half your daily magnesium. Power up with buckwheat pancakes or as a hot cereal.

  • Hummus: When made with tahini, the added garbanzo beans form a complete protein, offering 1.1 grams of protein per tablespoon.

  • Tempeh: This Indonesian fermented soy product has 21 grams of protein in a half cup serving. Serve as a meat substitute on sandwiches.

  • Spinach: Really? Yes! A half cup of cooked spinach provides 2.5 grams of protein.

  • Sun dried tomatoes: Nearly half your daily potassium, as well as 3 grams of protein and lycopene, a great anti-oxidant.

  • Peas: 8 grams of protein in a cup, along with 100% of your daily Vitamin C. And the uses are endless!

  • Artichokes: 10 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein in a medium-sized artichoke.

  • Beans and lentils: No list would be complete without these! A half cup serving means 8-10 grams of protein. Versatile and eaten around the world as a meal staple.

  • Guava: A surprising 4 grams of protein per cup along with 9 grams of fiber and 600% of your daily Vitamin C. 

Helping you get going vegan-style

Sure, you can just substitute tofu for chicken in a stir fry, or add meatless bacon to your breakfast side dishes. But you can really get patrons' attention and start that trend for craveable with something new.

Vegan doesn't mean low calorie or fat free. And it certainly doesn't mean tasteless! From indulgent vegan mac 'n' cheese to meat-free Buffalo "wings," vegan dishes are sparkling on menus today.

Simplot's chefs have been working on some great vegan meals, with all the style and flavor your patrons are looking for in that something extra.

Consider Vegan "Eggs" Benedict.  Using Simplot's Baby Bakers and Individually Quick-Frozen Spinach, we've created a breakfast dish even hard-core carnivore will order! And our mac 'n' cheese? Please! Our Fire-Roasted Corn and Jalapeños make this cheese-less dish de-lish. One more to round out some options: Our recipe for a meatless burger, topped any way you want, featuring our Ancient Grains and Wild Mushrooms mix.

So, don't miss out on this trend: Simplot makes it easy to get started and then let your imagination take over.


Flavor and the Menu, Indulgent Vegan,

Forbes Magazine, December 31, 2018

The Economist: The World in 2019

Vegetarian Times May 10, 2017