The restaurant industry is one that is constantly being transformed and reinvented on what seems to be an almost endless basis. By the time you find a new favorite restaurant, two more have opened up that offer a unique twist on the food you like or a completely new idea that with stun your taste buds. One such trend that has been on the back burner, slowly gaining popularity, has been plant-based food alternatives.
While vegetarianism can be traced back to ancient Greek and India, it hasn’t been until recently that it has started to gain mainstream traction and appeal. Now, restaurants are embracing trends in order to appeal to a larger consumer base in hopes of surviving year after year. In such a cutthroat industry, running a restaurant is all about adapting with the times and whether you like it or not, plant-based food restaurants have earned their place in the industry.
Plant-based restaurants – no. 1 food trend of 2018
Already touted as the No. 1 food trend of 2018 by many sources, plant-based food has catapulted itself into the spotlight. Led by the devoted vegetarian following, this trend has earned the support of consumers from both sides of the grocery aisle. Many diners (carnivores included) have been turned off by the inhumane practices of meat farming, environmental impacts or potential long-term health effects and are seeking healthier, protein-rich options to replace or supplement their diets with.
The German-owned Aldi has aggressively entered the grocery market in the US and is betting on stores with more vegan and organic offer showing that plant-based meals and food dishes are going to be even bigger in the upcoming period.. In the words of Aldi’s US CEO Jason Hart: “The motivation is to resonate more and more with what the customers want. … We think we found the sweet spot of concept that resonates throughout income levels.”
Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of meat for those who choose to indulge in it, the trend just shows that some carnivorous diners are reducing their meat consumption and increasing their vegetable consumption.
- Some of the most surprising statistics that reveal a little more insight into this exploding trend are:
- According to a survey, 31% of Americans practice meat-free days.
- Wal-Mart is trying to increase its plant-based offerings from its suppliers.
- Google has seen an increase of 90% in vegan-related searches in just the last year.
- Over 80% of US consumers add plant-based foods to their diets for improved health and nutrition, while 62% do so for weight management.
- Consumers under 40 years old have increased their vegetable consumption by 52%.
While restaurants have been a bit slower to embrace this vegetable trend fully, grocery stores have made major concessions in their aisles and on their shelves to make room for the plant-based foods. However, many restaurant consulting experts urge restaurants not to wait any longer to adapt.
Here are some of the top innovations to the traditional meat-filled menu:
- Vegan cheese and faux meat have become must-haves. While pizza and burgers seem like two items that should never be altered, consumers are now looking for vegan options for both.
- Faux fish and mock schnitzel will soon be a menu staple.
- Faux burgers have generated such a buzz due to their permanent spot in the American diet that companies have dedicated time, money and resources into perfecting the perfect “patty” that even bleeds like a real, well-cooked burger.
- Impossible Burger, Beyond Meat and others have taken the vegan burger and menu to new heights by launching meat-less restaurants with great success.
- Vegan burger contests and battles around the country have become extremely popular in the hopes to raise excitement about the delicious meatless burger options that are now here to stay.
While there will always be a place on the grocery shelf and restaurant menu for that juicy cut of steak or mile-high stacked burger, planted-based food options are here to stay. If you’ve noticed an increase in questions or requests for more vegetarian options, your restaurant is not alone. Embrace the trend and figure out how to add more vegetables to your menu otherwise, you will be missing out on potential revenue very quickly. The key to success in the restaurant industry is to make more money than you spend (or lose).
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