Vegetarian bakers and chefs across the country are facing unprecedented demand as homes prepare to cater to a growing number of vegetarians, vegans and “flexitarians” at Thanksgiving this year.
why it matters: With a steady increase in sales of plant-based meats and more meat eaters choosing alternative meat products, this year’s Thanksgiving is set to be America’s most vegetarian-friendly yet.
big picture: Whole Foods told Nerdshala that its surveys show that more than half of Americans (58%) have hosted guests following a special diet in the past year. And more than half of Americans (56%) say it’s important to provide vegetarian options at holiday gatherings.
- Demand was so strong last year for Whole Foods’ vegetarian meal for 2 — with items like Ceremony Mushroom Roast with Mushroom Gravy, Miso-Creed Greens and Coconut Sweet Potato Casserole — that the chain is at it again. roll it out nationwide,
- And for home cooks, the alternative meat segment in supermarkets has evolved in recent years as manufacturers try to get meat eaters into the fold, as reported by Nerdshala Erica Pandey.
state of play: Nerdshala Local reached out to shops, cooks, and producers across the country to see how this vegetarian-friendly change is resonating in their communities.
in DC, Vegetarian Bakery Owner Doran Peterson sticky Fingers and vegetarian restaurants the farewell, says its locations have received twice as many orders for Thanksgiving food in 2021 as in 2020 – while supply chain issues have made it harder to keep up with the holiday rush.
- “It’s not just normal holiday crazy, that’s fun — we look forward to it. It’s exhausting but it’s also fun to enjoy this level of energy,” she told Nerdshala. “But this year it has escalated with terror. We don’t know if we can get the material from day to day.”
- Swapping ingredients is difficult for vegetarian restaurants, says Peterson, because options are limited and changes can significantly change the final product.
in Minneapolis, vegetarian butcher This year it increased production of its vegetarian “turkey roast” to more than 1,000 to meet growing demand, co-owner Kale Walch told Nerdshala. Store that ships nationwide, sells outside “Turkey-Free Feast” Meal Package until the beginning of November.
- Walch said of the roast, “Every year it gets a little crazy. … We sell more every year and we find ways to work around our little kitchen.”
- Customers “went crazy” for vegetarian versions of classic sides like mashed potatoes and gravy.
in Chicago, Joan Lee Molinaro “Korean Vegetarian Cookbook” Food and drink have dominated the conversation and lists the bestsellers this fall.
- When Molinaro first suggested that his wider family — which are not vegetarians — try making a plant-based Thanksgiving a few years ago, he was somewhat shocked. But they agreed to give it a shot.
- “And everyone contributed, like we always do. And it was absolutely fantastic!! In fact, it was so good, we decided to do it again a month later for Christmas,” says Molinaro wrote on social media,
Bottom-line: Even with the change in taste, some things always remain the same. The last-minute problems that can plague a traditional Thanksgiving dinner still plague vegetarian-forward folks, too.
- “Anyone know of a store that still has Tofurky Roast?” written by Melissa Morkey Austin Vegans Facebook group. “Everywhere we’ve seen so far, it’s out of stock.”
Nerdshala’ Ben Montgomery edited this report, while Monica England, Paige Hopkins, Asher Price and Torrey van Ott contributed.
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