Why plant-based meals should be on your event menu

Catering trends

With millions of Aussies going vegetarian, it's time to embrace the movement.

There’s no denying plant-based dining is on the rise, as more Australians look to introduce more fruits, vegetables and other plant ingredients into their diets.

Nearly 2.5 million Australians now follow a diet that is all or mostly vegetarian, representing 12.1 per cent of the population, according to Roy Morgan.

With so many people choosing to limit their meat intake, its important to ensure your event menus feature a range meat-free options to cater to this growing group of plant-eaters.

Solander Dining and Bar at West Hotel Sydney has embraced the movement, offering diners an equal weighting of meat and plant-based dishes to ensure all preferences are catered to.

Slow-roasted tomato and capsicum terrine

Executive chef David Vandenabeele has seen first-hand the rise in plant-based dining among consumers.

“As dietary restrictions are on the increase and with an ever-increasing awareness of sustainable eating, we see more and more guests leaning toward vegan and vegetarian diets,” he says.

This change in attitude has allowed the restaurant team to get creative with plant-based dishes, says Vandenabeele.

“Traditionally, many diners opt for meat dishes when dining out, as plant-based dishes have been considered a side dish, or as a dish purely for vegetarians,” he says.

“At Solander, we wanted to give plant-based dishes equal respect and weighting on the menu alongside their meatier counterparts. We offer the same care and attention to detail in preparing the vegetable ingredients as we do in preparing a fine cut of meat.”

Green pea risotto

At Solander, diners looking for vegetarian options will enjoy the likes of green pea risotto, ginger-spiced heirloom carrots, braised globe artichokes and banksia-glazed root vegetables. The dishes are plated carefully, highlighting the different textures and colours of the plants and vegetables.

“We’re challenging the traditional concept of eating out and the type of meals offered, to open up people’s palates and get them to explore a wider range of plant ingredients,” says Vandenabeele.

Native ingredients

The rise in plant-based dishes also provides a prime opportunity to showcase Australia’s food offering and unique native ingredients.

Native ingredients are prominent on the menu at Solander, which diners have been embracing since the venue opened in 2018.

“One year on, we have enriched the Solander menu to add further depth to the Australian native culinary journey, incorporating produce and plant life that is found in abundance in this country,” says Vandenabeele.

Root vegetables

The venue’s approach to native ingredients is to incorporate them into the menu in new and surprising ways. For example, Vandenabeele uses banksia nectar, which is found in abundance in Sydney and has a sweet flavour profile.

“At Solander, we soak the flowers, strain them and then reduce down to a syrup,” he says. “The end result is very similar to maple syrup in flavour and we use it to sweeten our house-made pot bread.”

Explore the menus and event options at Solander and West Hotel Sydney here.

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