Are Vegan/Vegetarian Options Reshaping The Restaurant Industry?

Increasingly, we live in a health- and allergy-conscious society. Many people are more selective about what they want to – or what they can – eat.

Consumer preferences seem to indicate that vegan or vegetarian options aren’t just novel anymore. If you want to appeal to millennials, they are essential.

Per Portland Press Herald, 45% of younger consumers either regularly eat vegetarian and vegan food or follow a vegetarian diet.

Is there are a need for restaurants to adapt? Will you leave money on the table if you don’t cater to vegans and vegetarians?

Appealing To A Broader Audience

When larger parties are dining together, they want to choose a location where everyone can find dishes that meet their dietary, health, or taste requirements.

If 45% of millennials prefer to eat vegetarian or vegan, then within every younger party, there’s about a 50% chance that each person within that group will go for vegan or vegetarian options.

What happens when you don’t offer dishes that appeal to these sensibilities? There’s a good chance this party will find another location to dine instead of eating at a restaurant that doesn’t cater to their needs.

So, if your menu isn’t diversified, there’s a chance your restaurant is being passed up for other restaurants that appeal to more people.

Offering More Choice

Vegetarianism is trending. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t meat eaters, and some are even considered “flexitarians.” These people might have a diet that resembles that of a vegetarian most of the time, with the occasional meat consumption.

Consumers continue to question food choices. There’s more public awareness about food than there has ever been. With the information age in full force, it has become easier for consumers to find reliable information on blogs and podcasts, and even on Netflix in the form of informative documentaries.

Tailoring your menu entirely for vegans and vegetarians may not be the wisest move, especially if your brand doesn’t have that association. But offering more choices is something most if not all restaurants can do.

Keep in mind that if you want to appeal entirely to vegans and vegetarians, then you have a different kind of challenge ahead. Offering eight different kinds of salad on your menu is simply insufficient, and is a far too stereotypical and generalized view of the lifestyle and diet choice.

Also, some vegans refuse to eat in restaurants that serve meat, so even if you do offer a variety of choices, you may still be unable to appeal to certain customers.

Capitalizing On A Trend

Some businesses see these dietary changes as an opportunity to capitalize on a trend.

Certainly, every business should be aware of trends and shifts in their industry. Failing to do so could mean missing out on valuable opportunities or losing a competitive advantage.

Many restaurants adapt and update their menus over time, especially new restaurants that are just starting to figure out their target market.

But some established brands will find it difficult to move away from the image they’ve worked hard to develop, and will always appeal to a certain type of customer. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as appealing to certain sensibilities ensures longevity as a business.

If your prerogative is to capitalize on this opportunity, then you must be strategic about it. You must think about who you’re appealing to and why. You must take it seriously instead of just slapping together a couple of menu items to bring in more vegetarians and vegans to your place of business.

Conclusion

If vegan and vegetarian options aren’t reshaping the restaurant industry, then they are certainly causing more restauranteurs to think about what they could be doing to appeal to a broader base of customers.

Ultimately, more and more people are trying to eat healthier, and are more conscious about their food choices. Every restaurant needs to be thinking about how they can continue to appeal to their customers over the long haul.