A hospital stay can cause untold concern and discomfort for vegans who struggle to access nutritious hospital food. Anglia Crown identified a gap in the market for plant-based provisions and is consistently rolling out new recipes.
With more than 25 years of food production expertise under its belt, Anglia Crown had already laid the groundwork for moving into new territory. Supplying in the region of 100 UK hospital sites with nutritionally balanced food and with a production capacity of around 40,000 meals per day, branching out proved to be a commercially viable move for the award-winning meal manufacturer.
Choosing to tread the vegan path was not the simplest way for Anglia Crown to increase its reach, but identifying and addressing a need within its sector allowed for exciting new developments to begin, as Mary Wedge, senior operations manager, revealed: “We started developing our vegan range in 2016, with the first dishes rolling out in 2017. Later in 2017, we worked with the Vegan Society to become the first healthcare manufacturer to register dishes with its trademark.”
Wedge continued: “Our in-house development team — along with our registered dietitian — was extremely excited to develop such an important range. We had been considering it for some time and it felt like a natural fit to our ethos of ‘championing patient choice’. We could see there wasn’t much choice available for vegan patients and we wanted to use our 25 years’ experience in hospital food to address that, and provide a range of nutritious and great tasting plant-based meals.”
The Vegan Society has been quick to confirm its working relationship with Anglia Crown, as well as delight at such an inclusive corporate strategy. Heather Russell, a dietician for the society, said: “We are pleased Anglia Crown are so enthusiastic about providing nutritious food that can be enjoyed by vegans and non-vegans alike.”
Putting patients first
A catchy strapline for some but a driving ethos for Anglia Crown, the notion of always remaining cognizant of the needs of the end user is critical for the team. That’s why the vegan recipe development process was extensive and highly scrutinised. Though any vegan-certified meals would have been a step up for plant-based patients, ensuring a selection of nutritionally balanced and delicious options was at the forefront of the new Anglia Crown initiative.
The quality-first motivation proved to be a shrewd move and allowed for fast expansion, thanks in part to the glowing reception the meals received. Wedge noted that feedback had been impressive: “It’s been fantastic! We started with a range of around 10 dishes, and now have around 100, with more than 70 dishes registered with The Vegan Society, which we are thrilled about. Patient feedback has been extremely favourable, and we know patients who are not strictly vegan also like to choose the dishes too.”
Seen as a seal of approval, non-vegans choosing Anglia Crown’s plant-based meals only confirms how balanced and well-thought-out they must be, as well as a breath of fresh air compared to standard hospital fare.
Accounting for a different demographic
When anyone decides to embrace a vegan or plant-based lifestyle, there’s so much to take into account that naturally, certain issues will fail to be addressed. With the greatest will in the world, few people plan for what they would do if they needed to be admitted to hospital, leading to difficult discussions about food in the moment.
Anglia Crown stayed alert and observant, and, upon noticing an increased demand for meat-free options, took decisive and ethically-aligned action. Wedge highlighted that: “Patient choice has always been at the heart of our approach to hospital food, and very early on, we recognised a need for the whole industry to ‘do better’ in this space.”
She went on to talk about the fact that the team didn’t want to simply offer a token number of main courses: “Our range includes some delicious main meal options such as our popular butternut squash curry, but for us, it was important to look across the whole dining experience and provide some great tasting plant-based desserts and sides too.”
Anglia Crown is enjoying its foray into plant-based patient provisions, with plans to continue developing more recipes alongside attaining Vegan Society certification for a higher proportion of its overall menu as well.
Though nobody wishes for a hospital stay, it’s reassuring to know that delicious, balanced meals underpinned with ethical consideration are a possibility. “We want to offer quality options, not just for vegans, but for all patients who might wish to choose a plant-based meal on occasion,” Wedge said, concluding: “Our new vegan suitable meals have the potential to influence inclusivity, sustainability and nutritional quality of hospital menus across the UK and we continue to lead the way with future developments of this range.”