Major UK retailer Waitrose has launched a range of veggie and vegan products - expanding its meat-free offering by 35 percent in order to meet customer demand.
The range, which includes 30 dishes in total (including 11 plant-based), is available now.
Products were developed in collaboration with The Vegetarian Butcher, a Dutch company specializing in meat substitutes. They feature what a spokesperson described as 'a new soya protein'.
The spokesperson added: "Waitrose is the first UK supermarket to use this brand of alternative protein which looks like and has the texture of meat, appealing to those who want to reduce the amount of meat in their diet without the compromise."
The spokesperson said: "According to a Mintel report earlier this year,* demand for meat-free food is forecast to rise by nine percent over the next five years to 2021.
"And this trend isn't limited to the buying choices of vegetarians and vegans.
"Flexitarianism, a term for those who want to reduce but not completely stop their meat intake, was added to the Oxford English Dictionary as recently as 2014."
The Vegetarian Butcher, which was founded by 9th generation farmer Jaap Korteweg in 2010, uses plant-proteins to make meat replacements.
The brand began as a single shop but now sells products in 16 countries.
A Waitrose spokesperson said: "The Vegetarian Butcher has teamed up with Waitrose to develop its own label range of ready meals which includes a tikka masala, lasagne and green Thai curry which have been made as close as possible to the retailer’s best selling meat versions, but with a vegetarian recipe."
Korteweg added: "Our ideal is to have meat enthusiasts experience our products and then realise they don’t have to miss out on anything if they take meat out of their diet for one or more days.
"That is why we always try to capture the flavour of real meat and why we characterise ourselves as an entirely new generation of meat substitutes that are, according to top chefs, indistinguishable from the real thing."
Chloe Graves, Waitrose Vegetarian Buyer, said: "This is our largest ever meat-free range. Vegetarian meals are one of our fastest growing categories with sales up 14 percent year on year and we know this will only get bigger.
"There's little doubt that plant protein will play an increasingly important part in a healthy balanced diet in the future.
"By working with The Vegetarian Butcher we can offer our shoppers a first-to-market high quality replacement protein that is more akin to the texture of meat than anything we have stocked before.
"This will appeal to flexitarians who want to reduce their meat intake without the compromise, but is also suitable for vegetarians."
Vegan dishes in the range include a 10 percent dairy-free spreadable cheese called Sheese, vegan style pulled pork, and a handmade tofu.