Dominika Piasecka, Media officer, at The Vegan Society, on the opportunity veganism can offer the baking industry
Baking – perhaps more than any other area of cooking – relies heavily on innovation. New shapes, textures, flavours and ingredients are key to success.
Egg-free and dairy-free cooking may seem challenging (How do you get the cake fluffy? How do you make the frosting thick and satisfying?), but with a little imagination it can be done.
Veganism offers a tremendous opportunity for the baking industry precisely because it’s a new and exciting concept that is slowly but surely making its way into the mainstream. And it has huge growth potential.
Vegan bakeries have been popping up all over the country, their growth in line with that of the number of vegans. There was a 260% increase in the past decade and it’s growing exponentially.
Chain stores are embracing this surge, with coffee shops such as Costa, Starbucks and Pret A Manger selling vegan brownies, scones and cakes; restaurants such as Zizzi and Bella Italia offering vegan torte; and major supermarkets having free-from baking sections full of vegan products.
It’s a great business move, because vegan food is often suitable for other dietary groups: the lactose intolerant, vegetarians, reducetarians, environmentalists, the health-conscious, followers of certain religious faiths and those who simply enjoy vegan food.
Vegan baking is all about introducing new ingredients that replace animal products. Discovering ways to substitute egg or dairy can be a stimulating and educational mission for a baker.
Bakers are the magicians of the food world, and we’ve been hooked on their magic since we were little. So why do so many bakers look at me strangely when I enquire about vegan options? Is it surprising that vegans like cake too?
The loyalty of vegan customers should not go unnoticed. We like to reward anyone offering vegan options by recommending their business to friends and sharing it on social media. We appreciate someone going the extra mile and making their business more animal-friendly at the same time.
In the age of abundance, sticking to what you know isn’t a recipe for success. People expect businesses to go further for them, surprise them with the unknown, make the impossible possible. And the answer might be, quite literally, a slice of (vegan) cake.
I’m going to leave you with a big secret: there is no vegan birthday cake in any UK supermarket yet. When that does happen, vegans across Britain will celebrate.