“While we aren’t all turning vegetarian, we have come to the realisation that meat does not have to be at the centre of the culinary universe.”

Austrian trend researcher and nutritional scientist Hanni Rützler has identified a shift in people’s culinary habits. Tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage et al are riding high in the popularity stakes, for both health and ethical reasons. And although a shift away from eating meat towards chowing down on insects seems a very long way off in our part of the world, people are increasingly turning to meat alternatives and looking for new and clever ways to serve up the fruits of the soil. Other countries’ culinary cultures are a rich seam to be mined for new non-meat-based epicurean experiences.

Vegetables are the new meat

Over the past few years, the end of vegetables as a mere side order has spread from the restaurant trade and now extends into our homes. Award-winning local and international restaurants are showcasing the variety of textures, aromas and colours that plants and vegetables have to offer and the myriad creative ways to prepare them. In many cases, celebrated chefs from top gourmet outfits are focusing their attention elsewhere – on overlooked ingredients such as roots, leaves and stems, old and new varieties of carrots, rediscovered root veg and hybrid strains of cabbage.

The decisive drivers behind increasing people’s consumption of vegetables include a good range that fuels demand and a strong supplier network offering lots of different varieties.

And back at home, vegetables have become a faithful fixture on our dinner plates. Pre-cut vegetables, a massive array of vegetable-based take away dishes, fantastic vegetarian cook books, more and more varieties of fresh veggies at the supermarkets, specialist farmers’ markets, urban gardening and do-it-yourself vegetable gardens out on the terrace show that the days of vegetables playing a supporting role for meat are long gone.

Lost mine of veggie knowledge

The parts of vegetables that usually end up in the bin are increasingly being used in our kitchens. Increasing industrialisation in agriculture has led to the loss of precious information about plants over the past few years – including whether it is even safe to eat certain varieties. Aficionados such as Johann Reisinger, Andree Köthe and Yves Ollech are now trying to resurrect this long-forgotten knowledge, helping to bring beetroot leaves, broccoli stems and apricot stones back into our diets.

The lowdown on produce

Eating less meat only comes into question for the majority of consumers if tasty, meat-free alternatives are available. Nothing should be missing and it should not feel like a punishment. According to Israeli cookbook author Janna Gur, the following components are essential:


  • a wide variety of quality, plant-based basic ingredients
  • sufficient culinary expertise
  • creativity when it comes to different preparation methods and use of spices
  • natural curiosity about and openness to other culinary cultures that can help provide inspiration with tasty varieties of vegetables


Leaf to Root

More and more people are coming to appreciate vegetables in all their rich variety. Whether its saving the peel for stock or using the cores and seeds for added flavour – every part can put to good use in a bid to minimise waste and maximise enjoyment. And anyone who wants to find out more about the versatility of vegetables should make a beeline for the Leaf to Root website.

Rooftop farming

Rooftop farms with a wide selection of plants and vegetables are starting to take root in our cities.  State-of-the-art technology, ecological know-how and significantly shorter transport routes add up to delicious and chemical-free veg.

One such example opened on the roof of Tel Aviv’s largest shopping centre back in February 2016. Proximity to the produce and the ability to pick up veg harvested that day have had a positive influence on people’s buying habits, raising awareness in the process.


Smart Cara

If vegetables are left lying around for too long they spoil and can no longer be used for cooking. But Smart Cara has the ideal solution for anyone unable to make their own compost: dehydrating and pulverising scraps reduces the volume of the inedible leftovers to around a tenth, significantly cutting down on the amount that goes to landfill.


Cucumber drink

Vegan, 100 percent refreshing, mixed with mineral water and produced in an ultra-sustainable bottling plant – a young German start-up has emerged as an absolute beverage industry pioneer with their cucumber-based Cucumis drink. Cucumis is a party favourite, particularly for vegetarians.


Flower Sprouts

What has a mild and slightly sweet flavour, develops a nutty aroma when cooked, and can be steamed, baked, boiled or blanched in a matter of seconds? You’ve guessed it: flower sprouts – the hippest type of vegetable out there right now.  Traditional growing methods have seen this crossover between Brussel sprout and green cabbage grab the limelight. Flower sprouts are already on sale in smaller nurseries in Austria and Switzerland, where more and more people are developing a taste for them.