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How To Add Plant-Based Meals Without Forcing It

Bonji Foods Aficionado Smart Brief: Volume 68


Hi all, welcome back to the Bonji Food Aficionado Smart Brief! Happy Tuesday and we hope you had an amazing weekend! It may seem that vegetarians and vegans are a large portion of the consumer base, and although these numbers are growing, they still only make up less than 10% of diners. This statistic isn't to say you shouldn't have any plant-based options on your menu, but it's to show that you don't have to force it. There are actually around 40% of consumers that say they eat a plant-based meal at least once a week. Thus, vegetarian or not, the market is there for vegan options. But again, do not force it. Stay true to your brand and original menu, while sliding in one or a few plant-based alternatives.

Vegans in America Stats

Improvements in Restaurants ARE A MUST! The rise of plant-based eating is not just a trend, it's a shift in lifestyle and dietary choices that has been gaining momentum over the years. Many people are embracing plant-based diets, either for health reasons or to reduce their impact on the environment. As a result, restaurants are increasingly adding plant-based options to their menus to cater to this growing demand. In fact, according to Restaurant Business Online, around 47% of restaurants offer a vegan alternative option. However, adding plant-based options doesn't mean restaurants have to compromise their brand or menu.


“I don’t see why it’s not 100% (of restaurants serving plant-based),” said Andre Vener, partner and co-founder of 70-location fast casual, Dog Haus. “I wouldn’t create an entire new category, but look at your menu and see where it’s possible to substitute a plant-based burger, sausages or tenders.”


Now the plant-based eating habits have steadily grown over the years, with predictions suggesting this to continue. Not to say that these numbers will suddenly double, but the growth is there. Nonetheless, it's important to offer these options without giving up what you've already built. If you are a meat focused establishment, stay true to yourself, but don't shy away from inviting new customers in either! Here are some things to keep in mind when working on introducing plant-based to your brand. 1. Understand your audience Before adding plant-based options to your menu, it's essential to understand your target audience. Who are your customers, and what do they want? Conducting market research and analyzing customer feedback can help you identify their preferences and expectations. You can also look at social media trends and online reviews to get a sense of what people are saying about your brand and the competition. This information can guide your decisions when creating plant-based options that align with your brand and appeal to your customers. 2. Create plant-based versions of your signature dishes One way to add plant-based options while staying true to your brand is to create plant-based versions of your signature dishes. This approach allows you to keep the same flavors and textures that your customers love while accommodating plant-based eaters. For example, if you own a burger joint, you could create a plant-based burger that mimics the taste and texture of your beef burgers. This way, you're not compromising your brand or menu but adding a new option that appeals to a broader audience. 3. Highlight seasonal and local produce Another way to add plant-based options is to highlight seasonal and local produce. This approach allows you to incorporate fresh, high-quality ingredients that are in season and support local farmers. By doing so, you can create plant-based dishes that are unique and flavorful while staying true to your brand's focus on fresh and local ingredients. For example, if you own a farm-to-table restaurant, you could feature a seasonal vegetable platter or a plant-based entree that showcases the flavors of the season. 4. Offer a variety of plant-based options When adding plant-based options to your menu, it's important to offer a variety of choices. Not everyone who eats plant-based has the same dietary preferences, so it's essential to cater to different needs. For example, some people may prefer gluten-free or soy-free options, while others may be looking for high-protein or low-carb options. By offering a range of plant-based options, you can cater to a diverse group of customers and ensure that everyone feels welcome and satisfied. 5. Train your staff Finally, it's essential to train your staff on how to handle plant-based orders. This includes educating them on plant-based ingredients, preparation methods, and cross-contamination risks. By doing so, you can ensure that your plant-based options are prepared and served correctly, and your customers feel confident that their dietary needs are being met. In conclusion, adding plant-based options to your menu can be a great way to cater to a growing demand for plant-based eating without compromising your brand or menu. By understanding your audience, creating plant-based versions of your signature dishes, highlighting seasonal and local produce, offering a variety of plant-based options, and training your staff, you can create plant-based options that align with your brand and appeal to a broader audience.

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