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Features

Move over meat! Eateries increasingly catering to rising demands of vegetarians

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BENGALURU: Three weeks ago, a private pre-wedding bash was organised at The Smoke Coin Koramangala. What was unique is that this party booked an all-veg meal at the place actually known for its smoked meats menu. The guests enjoyed their single malts with veg dishes like avocado toasts. Owner Gautam Krishnakutty, however, is not surprised. He had made a conscious decision to give 40% weightage to vegetarian food and which must go beyond paneer.

“We serve dishes like baked cheese and smoked moussaka. Like our meats, we smoke veggies like eggplant and zucchini to tofu. I spent about three months curating our veg section,” he says.

Lines are blurring and restaurants are paying more attention to their vegetarian foodies. Krishnakutty observes that the trend kicked off a year ago.

Take this case: The Egg Factory, known to be an exclusive eatery for egg-based dishes, has dedicated 30% of the menu to veg options like Mushroom crostini, pastas and quesadillas. Cofounder Yogesh Mokashi witnesses good sales of veg food on Thursdays and festival time. “Restaurants have learnt that they have to go beyond veg tokenism. India has a lot of festivals when people turn vegetarian,” says Mokashi.

Five-star hotels too seem to be happy going green. JW Marriott has a dedicated allveg section in its daily buffet spread. ITC Gardenia recently organised an all-veg food pop-up that served vegetarian food of the royal gharanaas of India. F&B manager Bikram S Bajwa says, “The pop-up which was limited to 25 guests received 50 guests. It was also a test meal to understand the market. The good response has convinced us to replicate often.”

Online food platforms like Freshmenu speak of witnessing a rise in veg orders, especially Mexican, West Asian and Indian meals. About 40% of the daily sales is contributed by veg meals, they say.

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According to Srivats TS, vice president-marketing of food delivery platfor m Swiggy, Mumbai and Bengaluru have seen a substantial rise in veg food orders after Delhi in the past six months. On an average, 58% of daily orders in Bengaluru are veg-based, he adds.

Diners are rejoicing as they see the veg spread getting larger. Fashion choreographer and a vegetarian Sheetal Sharma says, “Dining-out does not mean routine dal, roti and paneer anymore. Chefs are getting creative with millets, quinoa and oats. Now I often step out with friends during tea time too for healthy vegetarian snacks.”

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