MANILA – Two months ago, Grand Hyatt Manila’s executive chef Mark Hagan did a little experiment at the hotel’s outlet The Grand Kitchen.
He increased the number of vegetable dishes on the buffet line to see what would happen.
“I put more healthy options on the buffet just to see what would happen. My pork consumption reduced by 15% in one month. The next month, I added more vegetables and my pork consumption reduced by 20%. I think if people see great healthy produce and it’s prepared properly, they are willing to move away from meat,” he told ABS-CBN News.
Hagan revealed this during the launch of their new vegan offering. The hotel is offering plant-based meat alternative products by Beyond Meat starting this month.
This is in line with the hotel’s participation in the Green Monday initiative, a movement that was started by Green Common, a distributor of plant-based natural food products.
On Mondays, Grand Hyatt Manila offers healthy vegetarian and vegan options at The Grand Kitchen. It has dishes like Vegan Nasi Lemak (bamboo shoot curry instead of chicken or fish) and Steamed Omni Pork Buns (pork is substituted by tofu).
“I just don’t think it’s offered enough in hotels and it’s not offered enough in different establishments around Manila. So definitely I believe there’s a market here in the Philippines,” Hagan said.
Grand Hyatt Manila has two Beyond Meat products on the menu, the Beyond Burger and Beyond Sausage. Beyond Meat is a California-based company and is one the leading organizations in plant protein research and development.
“The plant-based movement started five or six years ago, and has really taken off in the last two to three years where climate change and sustainability have become huge issues. They are a huge issue in the Philippines and you hear it more and more,” Hagan said.
“It’s just giving people an option to change. I don’t believe there’s enough options in the market, for people to make the change.”
The two products look like meat and have a similar texture. It is also quite close taste-wise, especially because they are prepared the same way as meat. The sausage, particularly, is indistinguishable to the real thing, flavored with spices and other natural seasonings.
“They are prepared exactly the same way. The difference is we have vegan cheese and all of the spreads and dips that we’re using are completely vegan-based as well,” the executive chef explained.
Going beyond Mondays, the burger and sausage sandwiches are available on the hotel’s a la carte menu daily.
Burger options include the Spicy Miso Burger (vegan patty with pickled carrots and radish, gochujang aioli, tofu fritters, and sesame seeds), Basil Curry Burger (vegan patty with grilled eggplant, basil aioli, curry, paprika, and shoestring potato), and BBQ Cheeseburger (vegan patty with coleslaw, barbecue sauce, vegan cheese, onion rings and jalapeño).
For the sausage sandwiches, they are offering the Tokyo Dog (vegan sausage, lettuce, wasabi aioli, teriyaki sauce, and tempura crumbs), Curry Dog (vegan sausage, basil aioli, curry, paprika, and shoestring potato), Chili Cheese Dog (vegan sausage, gochujang aioli, vegan chili con carne, vegan grated cheese, and jalapeño).
Hagan said having these options is also a great way to introduce children to plant-based food.
“It’s something interesting and I think it’s a great way to get children to eat vegetables as well… The reason I like Beyond Burger is because it relates to children as well. It relates to the great American burger which everyone loves to eat, every so often. It has a fantastic link in order to get children to eat vegetables and build it into their diets a little bit more,” he said.
The Beyond Meat products are flown in from Hong Kong and come all the way from California. The hotel hopes to offer more vegetarian and vegan options across all of its dining outlets in the future.