Vegetarian food (and vegan food) is hot these days. When vegan products like Just Mayo can be found on the shelves of places like Wal-Mart and 7-11, you know something is big. That’s why I wasn’t at all surprised to see this study which stated that consumer demand for alternative proteins is outpacing the supply.
Whether you go to restaurants or grocery stores, it can still be tough to find good variety in alternative protein sources. That’s especially true at restaurants, especially if you’re outside of the major vegetarian hotspots. If you’re in New York, LA, Philadelphia, Portland, etc., you’ll have quite a few good options. In Philadelphia, Vedge (a vegan fine dining restaurant) was voted #1 in the city out of ALL restaurants. If you’re in Peoria, Illinois…you might be disappointed.
Granted, it’s a lot better than it ever has been. Even non-vegetarians have come to realize that a diet of meat at every meal is not only high in cholesterol, calories, and saturated fat – it’s associated with a lot of health problems. Some restaurants are catching up. The smart ones who add in flavorful, exciting plant-based options stand to make big gains as other restaurants are slow to pick up on the trend. After all, if there are only a few places that cater to your needs, you’ll end up going to them over and over.
What does that mean if you own a restaurant, or plan to? It means you should do your research and create some solid, healthy, plant-based options on your menu. Even if you intend to target meat eaters, it’s a good idea to have some vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. Meat eaters have friends who may not eat meat, you know. My accommodating other preferences, you prevent those meat-eating friends from going elsewhere to avoid aggravating and excluding their friends. In doing so, you also provide some healthy options for your regulars who may want to skip meat occasionally.
Another upside of plant-based options is that they tend to cost you less, allowing for a greater markup. Who doesn’t love that?
What do you think about the vegetarian trend? Have you cashed in on it? Do you intend to add vegetarian dishes to your menu in the future?