Are you a ‘reducetarian’? Sodexo chef explains the next big food trend.

Are you a ‘reducetarian’? Sodexo chef explains the next big food trend.

Chef Michael Zachar thinks a lot about the past, present, and future of food. One big trend he is witnessing first hand is people are cutting back on eating animal products, without necessarily going full vegan or vegetarian.

Michael says the current trend is known as a ‘reducetarian’ way of cooking and eating. It’s about eating less meat, dairy, and eggs, without forgoing the quality of life that comes from having the odd rasher of brunch-time bacon. 

As the trend has grown in recent years, Michael has been researching reducetarian approaches. For some, it means having meat-free days each week; for others, it’s about replacing animal ingredients in recipes with healthier (and often cheaper) plant-based alternatives.  

Michael has been with Sodexo for a year, working various corporate sites and events while based at Haileybury school in Brighton. He credits the attitudes of his young consumers to have convinced him that this trend will continue into the future.

“Kids today ask questions about their food, about how it’s made and what’s in it,” Michael says. “More and more kids are aware of the damage that bad eating can do to our own bodies and the environment.

“This next generation genuinely doesn’t want to eat hot dogs and dim sims – they actually want salads, focaccias, and spinach and feta pies.” 

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Impressive plating techniques including ‘reducetarian’ beetroot root ice cream. See more from Chef Michael on Instagram @chef_mickeezee

As more kids report gluten and lactose intolerances, Michael believes the ultimate end-point of the trend could be when vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free food becomes the norm—and those who perhaps want some meat or cheese in the dish can request it as an add-on.

Being a chef, Michael enjoys revising the site’s recipes to test out if the great taste can be retained with fewer animal products used.

“What I’ll do, I’ll try to make something vegan and gluten-free as a challenge,” he says. “If I can make a healthy alternative that tastes as good as the unhealthy version, then the choice becomes easy. So you’ve got to create the right recipes for meals that people will still enjoy.”

One of the chef’s easiest tricks is to use only seasonal produce. “Produce that is in season tastes way better and you can really make it shine,” Michael says. “So when you get really nice pumpkin in season, you don’t need a kilo of butter in the puree to make it taste great!” 

Michael is excited about Sodexo’s potential to be ahead of the curve in meeting the demands of consumers (and therefore clients). One of his first reducetarian initiatives is being launched at Haileybury next year: a gluten-free and dairy-free smoothie bowl made from coconut yoghurt instead of regular yoghurt, while also better utilising leftover fresh and frozen fruit that otherwise might be wasted.

“Among the Sodexo team, there’s a lot of excitement about what we can do,” he says. “We talk a lot about our ideas, test recipes, take pictures, devise menus, discuss options with the supply chain team, and can then make a pitch to the client. It’s a process, but in the end, we‘re making cost-savings at the same time as improving health and satisfaction – and doing the right thing for the world.”

Sodexo is set to deploy the International Food Waste Coalition’s first action-oriented programme, SKOOL with an ambitious goal: to build a school food value chain without food waste. The program aims to educate children, optimise meal production in school cafeterias and promote value chain collaboration among food service companies. SKOOL will play an integral part of Sodexo’s commercial offer for schools, demonstrating our steadfast commitment to reducing food waste across all segments as part of Better Tomorrow 2025.