Strawberries and cream goes vegan as Wimbledon offers variation for first time

Andy Murray, pictured enjoying some Wimbledon strawberries in 2005 Credit:Phil Cole/Getty Strawberries and cream are enjoyed in abundance at Wimbledon Wimbledon has sourced its strawberries from the same Kent farm for nearly 30 years, and each serving has consistently contained exactly ten pieces of fruit, despite changes in size and harvest.They are picked daily from sunrise at Hugh Lowe Farms in Mereworth, near Maidstone, before being delivered to the All England Lawn Tennis Club by 10.30am. The farm provides around 61,700lb (28,000kg) of strawberries to the SW19 site every year, with any surplus made into jam and sold in the club house. Sales have increased each year and throughout the coming fortnight, 190,000 servings will be doled out to spectators, drizzled in 10,000 litres of cream. The first “conscious effort” to include some vegan options on site at the Championships was made last year but Mr Davies admitted that although popular, they were “difficult to find”.Yet in the last 12 months, the popularity of veganism has “ballooned” and he acknowledged it was critical that Wimbledon, as the largest catering event in Europe, reflected that. Mr Davies insisted that the introduction of a plant-based cream was not borne of pressure from spectators or campaigners but was simply a reaction to changing habits.“Our job is to try and anticipate what our spectators are looking for and clearly, when there is such a marked move in the UK marketplace it is incumbent on us to respond,” he said.“It’s about making sure we don’t exclude people from enjoying our signature dish.”This year, every one of the food kiosks, cafes and restaurants on site, from the walled garden to the tea lawn, will feature vegan options and Mr Davies is expecting a “reasonably significant uptake”.They have all, including the cream, been through rigorous taste tests throughout the year. Allergens too, form a key part of the decision making process to ensure the options are as accessible as possible. Strawberries and cream are enjoyed in abundance at WimbledonCredit:Philip Toscano/PA  A man dressed as a strawberry at Wimbledon Credit:Jordan Mansfield/Getty Andy Murray, pictured enjoying some Wimbledon strawberries in 2005   A man dressed as a strawberry at Wimbledon  Strawberries and cream is Wimbledon’s “hero” product, its signature dish that has been served up to hungry spectators since the Championships began in 1877.But this year, for the first time in the tournament’s history, the iconic summer desert is getting a makeover to bring it in line with modern trends.Tennis fans flocking into the SW19 ground next week will be offered the option of vegan cream, made with soya, to reflect the rapidly growing popularity of a meat-free diet.Anthony Davies, head of food and drink at Wimbledon, said the decision had been made to ensure spectators had a choice and that its menus were as “relevant” as possible.“Clearly we need to respond to the UK market place,” he told the Telegraph.“Veganism and flexitarianism have seen a massive growth over the last 12 months in the UK and therefore it seemed pretty obvious to us that we needed to address that in a number of ways but importantly, in our hero product and signature item.” Mr Davies said his team took a “very forensic approach” to reviewing what works each year, looking at sales data as well as the wider market as they formulate each year’s menu.“It’s important for us to stay relevant but equally to hold the tradition and heritage of the hero Wimbledon ingredients that are  at the very heart of what we do,” he added.”We work for the 50 weeks before the championships to perfect our recipes.“The vegan strawberries and cream is our biggest development this year and will impact the majority of people as it’s such an iconic dish.“There are lots more people choosing to eat less meat so for us, the importance of having that choice, quality and great taste across all of our options is really important.”The tradition of eating strawberries and cream at Wimbledon dates back to the very earliest incarnation of the championships, which coincided with the strawberry season at a time when afternoon tea was very much in vogue.Although the season is now much longer due to modern growing methods, the dish has become synonymous with the event.The Vegan Society said the decision to offer a vegan option reflected the rapid growth in veganism in the UK, which has quadrupled to 600,000 vegans, or 1.16 per cent of the population, in four years.Spokeswoman Sam Calvert said: “The more prestigious events want to cater well and reflect the market and more and more people now prefer a plant-based alternative, some just for environmental or health reasons.” She said soya cream had a similar texture to single pouring cream. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.

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