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Once a fringe eating trend (“wait, isn’t that just called vegetarianism?”), veganism has become a global movement in a major way. An increasing number of people are embracing this lifestyle, for an increasing number of reasons.

So why do many restaurants remain reluctant to include vegan items? Many restauranteurs claim reasons like perceived lack of demand, high cost and hassle. In short, you’re busy, you have a lot on your plate, and you’re already walking a fine line between meeting costs and staying profitable. But that’s the wrong way to think about it. Here’s why adding vegan items to your menu will present one of your biggest opportunities.

Last year was declared the ‘year of the vegan’ (by The Economist). This echoes not only in the number of people who identify as vegan, but the people who eat vegan food (not the same thing). As global thought patterns move towards a reductionist lifestyle, non-vegans have begun to regularly incorporate vegan meals into their diet. This falls in line with the global trend of increasing and incorporating more plant based foods into one’s diet. At the Hurst graduation last December, our students were reminded by their guest speaker to fall in love with vegetables, and many newly graduated chefs worldwide are following in this mindset.

Millennials are the biggest drivers of this trend, and they’re a massive (and growing) part of the consumer base. 25% of 25-34 year old’s classify themselves as vegan or vegetarian. This has to do with increased recognition of the environmental impact of the meat industry, ethical considerations about conscious treatment of animals and people believing that veganism is an investment in their personal health.

The number of restaurants opening that focus exclusively on plant-based diets has grown rapidly in the past decade or so. In addition to vegan venues, mainstream restaurants that serve dishes with meat and other animal products are expanding their menus to include items like cauliflower wings, vegan cake, and even meat-free burgers. Even McDonald’s now even offers a vegan burger, the McVegan, in certain locations.

By adding vegan items to your menu you stand to increase your customer base significantly. Not just with vegans either- groups of clients are unlikely to visit a restaurant where one of their number can’t eat. By including that 25% (itself not a small number), you also attract the people who eat with that 25%. Customers will perceive you as a more inclusive restaurant when you offer these options. You’ll also appeal to a broader market: vegans, vegetarians, reductionists (those increasing their intake of plant-based foods without eliminating meat), as well as environmentally and health conscious consumers. That’s not to mention those who are curious and simply looking for an alternative dining experience.

Reaching a new customer base also helps you increase sales. The increase in sales will vary by restaurant, depending on which vegan menu options you add or how well you execute your brand overhaul (if you chose to go completely vegan).

Now that you understand the popularity of vegan dishes and why it’s so crucial for your restaurant, you’ll need some ideas on how to best incorporate more vegan items into your menu. Stay tuned for next week’s blog which will offer tips and guidelines on how to do that, to be released on the 13th of January 2020 at 3pm CAT!

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