Veggie? Vegan? Just not a fan of corn-fed chicken breast? You can still serve sensational scran if you’re meat-free
One thing is clear: vegetarianism and veganism are no longer ‘alternative’ lifestyles. Rather, they’re slowly establishing themselves as the norm for today’s environmentally conscious consumer.
And why not, when one of the most effective steps an individual can take to reduce their carbon footprint is to swap chicken for chickpeas? People in Scotland seem to agree.
Despite its long-held reputation as one of our unhealthiest cities (those deep-fried Mars bars aren’t going to eat themselves, you know), Glasgow is now increasingly recognised as the UK’s vegan capital, and plays host to a number of vegan-inspired festivals and events. Not so bad for the ‘sick man of Europe’, eh?
Meat your match
All of this means that, in 2019, weddings are no longer sheltered from the world of plant-based living.
Modern couples want their personality to come through in their venue, fashion, decor – and now in their food too.
Vegans and veggies no longer feel they should shy away from (quite literally) serving up their values to guests; in fact, many are seeing it as a great way to showcase their lifestyle to loved ones.
“Getting married is the perfect chance to introduce any carnivorous family and friends to what plant-based food can offer,” believes Bryde Marshall of Falkland Farm Kitchen. But what about your uncle who doesn’t know his tofu from his tempeh? Bryde can save your bacon (or your facon, if you’d rather).
“It can be stressful trying to make sure everyone is happy and well fed, so work closely with your caterer – they’ll help you to devise a menu that will appeal to the whole party.”
Such concerns are also addressed by Elaine Mackay – her firm, Hudsons Catering, even offers a selection of vegan wine. “Meat-eating guests are more likely to be satisfied if they’re served something hearty – which has the added bonus of soaking up alcohol nicely!” she laughs.
And if you fear your veggie menu will come as too much of a shock to certain guests, why not send it out along with the invitations, she suggests. “That way, there’ll be no surprises on the day – and people can always have something to eat before they arrive if they’re nervous about the dishes you’ve chosen.”
So, it’s decided: your wedding will be a meat-free affair. What next? Veggie and vegan options are often treated as an afterthought, but wedding caterers want to reassure couples that you are a priority.
“We begin the menu planning process the same way with all our clients,” promises Susannah Nixon of Bespoke Catering & Events. “We don’t do set menus – instead we’ll have a chat with you to find out more about you and your wedding, your food loves and hates, where you like to eat out, memories of favourite meals, and then we build a bespoke menu to fit the brief.”
Bored of the mushroom risottos and goat’s cheese tarts of yesteryear? You’ll be pleased to hear that 2019’s vegan and veggie fare is more exciting, versatile and delicious than ever.
Here’s Barrie Henderson, general manager of Hendersons, one of Edinburgh’s pioneering veggie haunts: “We make sure that everything we provide is fresh,” he says. “We’ve had countless converts to vegetarian food, people who have told us that the quality of what we offer has really impressed them.
“And, of course, we’re always developing new dishes – recent favourites include almond-and-coconut battered tofu, sweet-and-sour pak choi, and paneer-stuffed aubergine with lentils.”
It’s a similar story at another culinary crusader, The Herbivore Kitchen, also based in Edinburgh: its cardamom-and-saffron scone canapé will tickle your guests’ tastebuds before they sit down to a date-and-tamarind aubergine steak with za’atar crumb, kale-and-garlic salad and chickpea-and-saffron mash. If that isn’t enough to convert even the most stubborn of meat-eaters, we suspect nothing will.
But what if instead of going all-out with a plant-based menu, you stick with the meat for the most part and have a separate menu for the veggie contingent? These days, there’s no excuse for not working out how to include everyone.
“It’s crucial that your vegan or vegetarian guests feel a lot of thought has gone into their food. You can’t just fob them off with a salad, as might have happened in the past,” agrees Susannah. “Recently, we’ve been replacing pulled pork with an amazing barbecue jackfruit – it blows people’s minds.”
The move towards plant-based eating shows no sign of slowing down, so buckle up your beans – we’re set to be here for the long haul.