Chefs speak out on the trend of eating less meat

More diners are turning to plant-based diets, covering the full spectrum from strict vegan to flexitarian – eating mainly vegetarian but occasionally meat and fish.

But what do chefs really think about it? We asked five chefs around the world for their opinions.

 

SAT BAINS, RESTAURANT SAT BAINS, UK

Chef-owner of his two-Michelin-starred fine dining hotspot in Nottingham, central England, Chef Sat serves creative, seasonal, modern British cuisine.

“I will never offer a vegan menu at my restaurant. My menus are priced at £120 or so per person – if I offered vegan food at my prices, it would be a rip off as the ingredients are so low priced. I eat vegan food, my parents are vegetarian, and I was raised 60% vegetarian, I have no problem with it and I think it’s delicious. But I choose not to serve vegan food. I offer tasting menus with a wide variety of ingredients, from truffles and caviar to wild game and small-herd lamb, along with 2-3 plant-based dishes as I believe people like to taste exciting renditions of vegetables. Overfarming is terrible for the environment – eat less meat, and just make sure the meat you do eat is the best quality.”

 

QUE VINH DANG, NHAU, HONG KONG

 

Classically trained Chef Que, best known for his first solo restaurant, TBLS, in Hong Kong, which had almost a cult following, opened his latest venture, a contemporary Vietnamese restaurant, last year.

“I wouldn’t say I personally eat less meat, but I’m just more conscientious in balancing my intake of meats and vegetables. The dining scene has changed a lot in the past decade or so. There’s no pressure to put meat free dishes on the menu but it’s more about evolving our thought processes towards creating items to suit the ever-changing dining and diet scene.”

 

ASMA KHAN, DARJEELING EXPRESS, LONDON

This much-loved food personality, the first British chef to feature on Chef’s Table, recreates royal Bengali and Rajput cuisine in her warm and wonderful London hotspot.

“I think eating less meat is good because too much of anything strips the resources and causes an imbalance in supply and demand. But I don’t believe in any kind of restrictions on what someone can eat. I come from a country where children die of hunger. To eat is a privilege. If anyone can afford to eat I’m happy for them and I would not want to interfere in what they eat.”

 

JOS TIMMER, DE KAS, AMSTERDAM

Chef Jos, along with co-owner Wim de Beer, run this organic garden conservatory kitchen that was one of the world’s first farm-to-table restaurants when it opened 20 years ago.

“We’re pleased with the move to eating less meat, and have always wanted to inspire people to eat more vegetables. We’re not vegan or vegetarian, but all our ingredients are organic and as sustainable as possible. We have definitely seen diner expectations change: we always had people who were already interested in plant-based cooking, but now it’s more mainstream and people are realising we can’t eat the amount of meat we used to. Diners who used to eat only at steakhouses are every now and then going for vegetarian meals. We have customers now we wouldn’t have seen 2 years ago.”

 

BEN KIELY, CULINARY ARTS CHEF INSTRUCTOR, PICA, CANADA

The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts has been Vancouver’s leading culinary education centre for more than 2 decades, and here British-born chef Ben trains the next generation of top cooks.

“I think the trend is positive, it forces the chef to push boundaries, keep an open mind, learn from other cultures and helps the environment. We’ve included more plant-based options at the school – some students come to culinary school to learn the French classics, while some students are very progressive and almost expect some insight into plant-based cooking.”