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Garden Gourmet study finds 25% of BBQ hosts feel unprepared to serve veggie or vegan guests

An astonishing 8.8 million UK citizens are set to go meat-free this year (up 22% year on year), according to a Finder UK Diet Trends survey conducted in January 2022. So given the weather is starting to warm-up, the ‘steaks’ have never been higher to cater for this new wave of meat-free guests at the millions of BBQs that will be happening over the coming months.

However, plant-based food brand, Garden Gourmet, has ‘grilled’ the public and found it’s easier than ever for crowd-pleasing barbeque hosts to cater for changing UK dietary requirements. Its study found that 36% of 2,000 carnivores surveyed say the amount of plant-based options in supermarkets now makes it easier to provide alternatives for their guests.

However, the study also revealed Brits remain unsure of how to ensure all their guests are happy, with one in four admitting they would feel unprepared if they knew a vegetarian was coming to their barbeque, while one in five would feel ‘stressed or confused’, and 18% say they would have no idea what to serve.

“The research shows that when it comes to hosting summer barbeques, hosts can feel unsure about what to serve guests with vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian dietary requirements, but there are many options for meat-free barbeques today that mean you don’t need to compromise on taste, including succulent and delicious vegan burgers, juicy fillet pieces, and sizzling sausages,” said Laura Mack, Senior Brand Manager, Garden Gourmet.

“Garden Gourmet understands that if you’re not familiar with cooking meat-free items, it can seem daunting, but there are easy ways to switch out meat-based products for vegan alternatives that all guests will enjoy.

The study also found, of the 45% who worry about pleasing their veggie or vegan guests, top reasons include not wanting to buy the wrong thing and offend them, and feeling under pressure to provide decent alternatives. Others don’t want to have to clean the barbeque in-between cooking and admit being unsure how to cook plant-based food.

Indeed, 42% have invited a vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian guest to a barbeque in the past – with a quarter of those admitting they asked the guest to bring their own food. A third provided meat alternatives which the guests didn’t like, and 22% simply forgot to buy meat-free options.

However, a successful 50% bought vegetarian or vegan substitutes which their guests enjoyed.

Although a third of respondents immediately think of meat when it comes to barbeques, a promising third of meat eaters said they would research the best alternatives if buying food for a veggie or vegan guest, whilst 26% would buy plenty of options, hoping that one or two would be liked.

But almost half admitted they have served meat to veggie or vegan guests when hosting a barbeque in the past – resulting in guests leaving (27%) or throwing food away (22%).

It also emerged nearly half of those polled via OnePoll aren’t confident they know what foods vegetarians can and can’t eat, while 72% are confused by which condiments are allowed.

“The research suggests more and more people want to be able to cater in a plant-based way and accommodate dietary requirements, but that there is still a lot of uncertainty about what this looks like,” added Alex Head, Founder of Social Pantry and expert caterer and party host. “Luckily, there are some really easy ways to keep everyone happy!

“The huge range of plant-based alternatives supermarkets that replicate the flavour and texture of meat or dairy provide direct swaps, however adopting a more veg focused approach to feeding a crowd has the ability to benefit everyone!”

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