The rising consumer trend for ‘flexitarian’ eating, which has seen an increasing number of people eating less meat and choosing higher welfare produce, is being championed by restaurants in Bristol backing the new-look Flexitarian Award.
The award, which started life in Bristol, celebrates eateries whose menus offer a wide selection of plant based dishes, and aims to showcase the talent of Bristol chefs for creating extraordinary meals without meat. Rated Bronze, Silver or Gold, award holders are also assessed on the welfare standards of the animal ingredients they use, while eateries serving no meat at all can win a Green award.
With 44% of adults in the UK willing or already actively cutting down their consumption of meat, and restaurants and fast food chains identified as the best way to help people achieve this 1, restaurants are increasingly alert to the commercial benefit of catering for this dietary shift, and keen to have their efforts recognised.
One restaurant embracing the flexitarian approach with their menu is No. 1 Harbourside, which holds a Gold Flexitarian Award. The Bristol favourite, whose sister restaurants The Canteen and Old Market Assembly have also received the highest level of award, takes a strong ethical stance to its sourcing policy. Their menu puts plant based dishes centre stage, their high welfare meat dishes under the heading of ‘Meat as a Treat’ to encourage their customers to consider their dining choices. Speaking of their award, Clare Lowe, marketing manager of all three eateries said:
“We’ve seen a real shift in the kind of food that people choose when they eat out. Gone are the days when diners skipped past the veggie options without a second thought! Our customers expect an exciting range of hearty plant based options, alongside a few high welfare meat and fish dishes. They also expect transparency, so holding a Gold Flexitarian Award helps us to show our customers that our menus are created with sustainability and animal welfare in mind.”
The new-look award is launching with a new website, so that restaurants can apply online and diners can locate a Flexitarian awarded eatery near them. People eating out can also look out for Flexitarian Award window stickers and certificates to help them find a restaurant that matches their values. [The relaunch of the Award coincides with Bristol Food Connections Festival; festival-goers can find out more about flexitarianism from Flexitarian Bristol – the voluntary group behind the Flexitarian Award – who will be appearing at events across the city.]
Danni Rochman, voluntary coordinator of the Flexitarian Award, commented:
“Now feels like a brilliant time for us to make a really big push with the Flexitarian Award. We’ve been talking about this as the future of sustainable eating for some time, but now it really feels like flexitarianism is becoming mainstream, and more and more people are identifying with the movement. For us, flexitarianism is the best way of getting people to consider the amount of meat they’re consuming and, importantly, the welfare of that meat. It’s an inclusive approach to eating that recognises the positive collective impact we can make by reducing or even eliminating animal products from our diet.”
The global impact of the livestock industry has been widely documented of late, with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reporting that global carbon emissions from livestock farming outstrips those from all the world’s transport combined 2.