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Should your restaurant consider a plant-based menu

Akshay Shetty

What does plant-based mean?

Plant-based restaurants are popping up around the world. Yet many restaurant owners don’t understand the difference between plant-based, vegan and vegetarian. In simple terms vegetarian means meatless. On the contrary, plant-based diets drop all animal products. This includes meat, fish, dairy, eggs, gelatin, other animal by-products and processed food. Vegans also follow plant-based diets. But, the conviction to avoid all animal products and by-products extend to other life aspects. For instance, a vegan would not buy leather products.

Why is it gaining traction?

Diners around the world are switching to plant-based diets for various reasons. From weight and health management to saving money and promoting sustainability. From celebrities to companies like Google, everyone is supporting this movement. Moreover, celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Rocco Dispirito encourage plant-based eating.

Studies show that a plant-based diet is good for your body as well as your mind. It lowers the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, provided your diet is rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Millennials are the drivers of this shift to plant-based eating. Millennials and Generation Z are environmentally conscious and promote sustainability. The awareness about animal cruelty is also high amongst this generation. It’s projected this segment will be spending $1.4 trillion annually by 2020 in the US. Thus, it’s important to consider their needs and follow their trends.

What are the current trends regarding plant-based food?

There was a 20% rise in the sale of plant-based food in 2017 states report from Nielsen and Plant-Based Food Association. The number of people identifying themselves as a vegan has increased by 350% in the UK, states research commissioned by Vegan Society in partnership with Vegan Life magazine.

Plant-based diets are becoming popular in Asia. New dietary guidelines by the Chinese government encourage the nation’s 1.3 billion people to reduce their meat consumption by 50%. Plant-based meat, alternatives are gaining popularity. Beyond Meat and Impossible Food, products are in high demand amongst the consumers. Currently, beyond burger is sold in all the 469 outlets of TGI Friday in the US. Same goes for Impossible Food which launched the Impossible Whopper at 300 outlets of Burger King in the US.

Moreover, movies like “Fork Over Knives,” “What The Health!,” and “Earthlings” promote plant-based foods. Meatless Monday a global movement encourages people to cut out meat at least one day a week.

Why should your restaurant consider having a plant-based menu?

The number of people switching to a plant-based diet is growing rapidly. For restaurant owners, there is room to grow their business and tap into a new set of customers. Introducing plant-based food can open up a new stream of revenue for restaurants. The more options you have the better the chances of attracting new customers. Having plant-based options becomes more crucial as a group of people would prefer going to a restaurant which has food options for everyone.

41% of the consumers state they are eating more vegetables than they did a year before according to a 2017 Technomic’s report. A recent report by Technomic on Healthy Eating also states that 86% of restaurants agreed that offering vegetarian dishes has increased sales and traffic. Considering the stats your restaurant might be losing on a huge market if you have limited plant-based or vegan options on the menu.

How beneficial it can be in the long-term?

The plant-based diet is surely here to stay. The Netflix series named ‘Game Changers’ which explores the truth about meat, protein and strength encouraged many to switch to a plant-based diet. Plant-based food is proving to be the future of food. Moreover, countless products from plant-based food manufacturers are already hitting the shelves of supermarkets. For the restaurant industry, it’s about making big changes in the menu and following the growing trend. In the end, the ones who adapt early will benefit the most.

Akshay Shetty