More and more people are trying to keep their carbon emissions as low as possible. Especially after the pandemic, the urge to take better care of our planet has risen dramatically. As a result of this, the amount of people implementing a meatless diet has been growing at an incredible pace. Especially Gen Z and Millennials are interested in the vegan and/or vegetarian lifestyle to contribute to a more sustainable world. And with Gen Z being the fastest growing economic power in the world, their preferences definitely shouldn’t be overlooked when catering to them as restaurants!
Alright, so why should you adapt to this trend? Here are at least 4 good reasons why plant-based on your menu is a great idea for your restaurant.
1. More and more people will choose plant-based options over meat
And they will look elsewhere if your restaurant can't cater to their choice. In our home base, the Czech Republic, the amount of people considering eating less meat has grown 10 percent since 2020, and represents about 21 percent of the population! In Germany, almost half of the population are following a flexitarian lifestyle, and a whopping 2.6 million people are completely vegan. Also in the dairy industry, many people are finding alternatives to animal products. One in three Americans already drink milk alternatives at least once a week. Those are numbers anyone in the food service can’t ignore! If the question “how do you want your steak?” used to define good places, now it's rather “what milk do you prefer in your cappuccino?”
Meatless or less meat? The plant-based menus aren’t only for vegans and vegetarians. They are also getting more and more popular among the meat-eaters who want to reduce the frequency of eating animal products. An American study conducted by Piplsay in 2021 concluded that 52 percent of the contestants have tried plant-based products at fast food chains, and 72 percent of those people were not even following a plant-based diet. The success of the meat-free products is shown by the Beyond Meat taco at Mexican fast food chain Del Taco. After launching their vegan alternatives in 2019, it became one of their best-selling products in no time!
Takeaway One: Adding meat-free options on your menu will expand your target group.
Picture by Laura D Vargas.
2. You’ll help the planet, and consumers will love that!
That’s a win-win, right!? According to a study done by Nature Food, 57 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the meat and dairy industry. Encouraging people to halve their meat consumption will have a huge impact on your and their carbon footprint. Each day, we get reminded again of how important it is to take care of our planet. Climate change is a real problem, and solving this problem takes small and painless steps every and each of us can afford.
But besides the huge environmental impact you’ll have by integrating plant-based dishes, you’ll definitely also see financial benefits. Studies already show that around 65 percent of Gen Z and Millennials are willing to switch brands or products for sustainability reasons. In other words, users quit brands that do not offer climate-friendly alternatives. And since cutting out food and dairy from your diet can reduce a person’s carbon footprint up to 73 percent, even a partial reduction makes a tangible difference. Sustainability is a rapidly growing trend, and you should definitely not stay behind!
Takeaway Two: Supporting the plant-based and less meat lifestyle as a restaurant will make the guests absolutely love you.
3. Meat substitutions are getting at better by the day
Who says you have to compromise on taste when leaving meat out of a dish? Nowadays, many Michelin-awarded restaurants have 100 percent plant-based menus. Also, the meat substitute industry is getting more creative every day, resulting in innovating ideas like using several sorts of mushrooms, rediscovery of jackfruit and other superfruits, and even 3D printed steaks! Brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have already managed to create dishes that both look and taste identical to a normal burger, a steak, a piece of lamb or even kebab! Because of these developments, restaurants do not have to steer away from their brand identity to be able to promote the vegan lifestyle anymore. With the market for meat substitutes growing at the pace we observe right now, the developments in the meat alternatives industry seem promising. And if substitutes aren't your choice, the first thing to do is to already think of an item on your menu that could be replaced by delicious vegetables or fungi. The meat alternatives market is unstoppable: Currently valued around 5.9 billion dollars, Fortune Business Insights sees the industry being valued at around 12.3 billion dollars in 2029. So if you think there’s already a lot to choose from when it comes to meat substitutes, be prepared for the future!
Takeaway Three: The market of meat substitutions is unstoppable. Grab your share before other brands do.
4. Staying in the race with competition
Last but not least, just imagine, if a large group of people wants to eat at your restaurant, you want to be able to cater to them all! Imagine 40 people coming to a food hub, including a couple of vegans. Not being able to cater all of them, might mean they will all go to your competitors. As said before, offering vegan products does definitely not mean you have to steer away from your brand identity or compromise on taste, aesthetics and quality. Jackfruit can perfectly replace pulled pork, preparations of tofu mimic chicken like no other, and beautiful vegetables can create even more interesting flavors than any meat would ever be able to!
The amount of restaurants in Prague offering plant-based alternatives is rising, event organizers are more and more requesting plant-based catering and those numbers are expected to grow exponentially in the years to come. You don’t want to stay behind, and see your customers turn their back to your brand.
Takeaway Four: Your competition is picking up on the trend, and acting accordingly! If you don’t do the same, you’ll lose customers!
Go for it!
Thanks to today’s technology and creativity of the food industry, it is entirely possible to cater your restaurant to the people who’d like a plant-based diet while staying true to the visions and origins of your business. By doing so you will not only help save the world for the generation of your kids, but also see huge improvements in the revenue of your company, and customer retention. Vegetarianism, veganism, and other healthy and sustainable living trends are only expected to grow, and to be able to cater to as many people as possible, you will have to, and want to, adapt. Maybe meatless is not for everyone, but less meat is!
Article by Ramon Koedam.