Vegetarianism and veganism are in vogue at the moment. As Veganuary draws to an end, some are wondering if we might even be approaching “Peak Meat” in Europe – the point where meat consumption hits a ceiling and eventually begins to decline.
Certainly, consumption per capita of beef and pork in the EU-27 has not grown for several years, and poultry consumption has slowed. At the same time, an increasing number of plant-based products have been hitting supermarket shelves (though still representing a fraction of the market compared to meat products). In addition, many consumers have been cutting back on meat for health or environmental reasons, even if they haven’t been going full vegetarian or vegan.
All things considered, it’s never been easier to go veggie or vegan. Yet challenges remain. For example, dining out can be a difficult experience for a herbivore. Options are often limited (if there are vegetarian meals on the menu at all). Restaurants in the EU are already obliged to inform customers about allergens, such as nuts, in their meals. Should they also be obliged to provide vegan or vegetarian options?
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Julia, who thinks that all restaurants should be obligated by law to have vegan options on their menu. She says:
Another things that would help would be if all restaurants were obligated by law to have a selection vegan-protein based meals on their menu. The only choices at restaurants are meat or dairy. This makes it difficult for health minded people who wish to reduce meat, environmentally friendly people, lactose-intolerant people, vegans and even vegetarians (who get bored with one cheese options only or the one veggie burger option). Also this would solve the additional problem of people being forced to pay full price when ordering a meal minus meat, over-priced starters or sides or over-priced salads.
To get a response to Julia’s comment, we put it to Luisa Crisigiovanni, Secretary General of Altroconsumo, the largest independent consumer association in Italy. What would she say? Would mandatory vegan options on menus be going too far?
For another perspective, we put the same comment to Isabelle Mulkerrins, who blogs on nutrition, veganism, health and lifestyle. How would she respond?
I personally agree with Julia, because having vegan options on the menu would cater for everyone. So, it’s not just for vegans but also people who are lactose intolerant or have a milk-protein allergy, or just those who want to eat more vegetarian.
Also, it would mean that if you went out to eat with a group of friends and you were vegan or vegetarian, then you would know there would be an option for you. Plus, there is such a trend now that more people want to try eating vegan, so going out to eat could be a good opportunity to try a plant-based meal for the first time…
Should all restaurants be required to have vegetarian options? Or would that be going too far? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions.