Consumers' love affair with piling fruits and vegetables on their plates continues to gain momentum, according to research from Culinary Visions, Chicago. In fact, the study shows consumer preferences are pushing produce to the center of the plate on menus.

This vegetable-centric food trend is driven by consumers' desire for healthier foods and the belief that produce-centric meals are better for you.  

The study of 1,500 consumers found 88% of those surveyed want to get more fruits in their diets and 87% say they want to eat more vegetables. However, more produce on the plate doesn't mean that consumers are ready to forgo meat, as 82% of consumers surveyed say they love meat.

"Consumers want vegetables and fruits on their plate for a number of reasons, such as to eat healthier and help the environment. Yet the majority of omnivorous consumers are not giving up on meat," says Sharon Olson, executive director. "By grilling, smoking, braising and marinating vegetables, fruits and flowers, leading chefs and culinary professionals have shown consumers ways to enjoy the satisfaction of healthful indulgence." 

Sixty-two percent of consumers seek out restaurants that offer responsibly produced foods on their menus, and 63% prefer to order menu items that tell them where the ingredients come from, such as specifying their farm or fishery.

Meanwhile, 86% of consumers say they trust their favorite restaurant to follow ethical practices, and 76% of the consumers surveyed say that they want to know as much as possible about the food that they are eating.

Besides the desire for nutritious foods, there is a desire to make food choices that leave a light footprint on the environment. For instance, 65% of consumers say that they are concerned about the environmental impact of take-out containers and to-go packaging.