Veganism is more than just a hot food trend; an increasing amount of people are choosing to embrace this lifestyle. If you are a restaurant owner or a chef and you are not including vegan recipes into your menus, you are missing out on a growing, loyal following. What was once on the fringes is now mainstream. The Economist declared 2019 as the year of the vegan.

Three key factors driving this lifestyle choice:

  • People are more aware of their environmental impact and wanting to reduce their carbon footprint. More of the public is mindful of climate change and plant-based foods are climate-friendly options.
  • More consumers are concerned about how animals are treated and raised for food, driving more diners to make alternative decisions.
  • People believe the lifestyle is an investment in their personal health. More research and discussion reports that vegan diets promote weight loss, lower blood sugar, and are heart-healthy.

Despite this growing consumer lifestyle choice, many restaurants remain reluctant to include vegan menu items. Some reasons include a perceived lack of demand, high food costs associated with keeping Vegan ingredients on hand, or lack of space on the kitchen line for more menu items. However, when you dig deeper, appealing to your customers by offering vegan menu items presents a significant opportunity to create loyalty for your restaurant.

S&P Oyster Restaurant & Bar of Mystic, Connecticut, known for its fresh seafood and Angus steaks has embraced menu variations that include a completely separate menu for its vegan diners. Groups, families, couples have the best of all worlds with separate Vegan, Regular and Gluten-Free menus. S&P Oyster is one of the few places where both Vegan and Non-Vegan diners both leave thrilled with their choices. Many places have vegan or gluten-free options, but you’ll see them on the menu with an asterisk, or alone as one option. S&P provides the same types of flavorful and creative choices as their original menu, but with a Vegan twist. The S&P vegan menu includes three different salads, and entrees including a Tri-colored Quinoa, Farro & Vegetable Bowl, Vegetable Tacos or Pasta, Roasted Vegetable Polenta, and Sautéed Vegetables over Canilla Rice. There are also four separate side dishes.

Vegans are people too! They don’t want to miss out on all the good stuff, and they are looking for culinary adventures just as much as traditional diners. The vegan community is tight-knit and thinks of themselves as a community of friends sharing their dining discoveries online and in social media groups locally, statewide, and nationally. This leads to powerful marketing for your restaurant. Some of these influential websites include VegNews Magazine with 500K followers on Facebook and 470K followers on Instagram. Blogger Vegan Richa boasts 1M Facebook fans.

Offering vegan options will also lead to more group bookings. When you go out to eat with a group, you want to make sure wherever you go has something for everyone. If there’s a vegan in your group, and there likely will be, restaurants that don’t offer vegan dishes will be ignored.

After all, there’s a growing demand for plant-based foods that goes beyond vegans. Diners are becoming more educated about how their food is made, where it comes from, and whether it is ethically sourced. This demand means there’s a massive opportunity for you to bring more customers through your doors and capture your share of a growing market that’s here to stay…

How will you take advantage of this opportunity?

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