Vegan food items are growing in popularity as cultures, health choices and recipes gain popularity. Efforts, like Meatless Monday, are helping to bring an awareness of the environmental, economic, and health impacts of eating meat products. Many tourist industry-leaders are recognizing the value and investing in expanding their vegan and vegetarian menus.
Sharon Wynne, a Tampa Bay Times journalist covering Florida’s theme parks and other consumer beats, discusses how Florida attractions are adding vegan items to their menus. Theme parks, cruise lines and other industry-leaders recognize that a lot of people are trying to cut back on eating meat but want more flavor than the traditional salad bar. They have been investing in recipes and food testing to find out what the public, especially the meat-eating public, would enjoy eating.
Items, like the Impossible Burger, have been featured at food and wine festivals and have been big hits. Small changes, like meatless-patty sliders, are introducing vegan products into traditional recipes and helping to change attitudes.
For those who aren’t familiar with the term vegan, veganism is a way of eating that doesn’t incorporate animal products of any kind including meat, dairy, eggs, even honey. Vegan dishes rely on plant-based products and cooking chemistry (such as using flax seeds as an egg substitutde) to achieve flavor, consistency and texture. Many vegan products are nearly indiscernible from traditional meat products because they have been “veganized” (recipes conceived in a way that replaces meat products/methods with those welcome in the vegan way of cooking).
“This is consumer demand… not just good publicity, their customers want this,”– Sharon Kennedy Wynne,Tampa Bay Times Journalist