Moving meatless: how to develop a vegan menu that works for your restaurant

Moving meatless: how to develop a vegan menu that works for your restaurant

June 25, 2020, 07:39 PM UTC

Think that veganism is still just a hippy fad? Think again. Over the past few years, plant-based meat and dairy alternatives have become a billion-dollar industry. In 2017, the number of consumers identifying themselves as vegan jumped from 1% to 6%, and the demand for meat-free food options increased by 987%. (Side note: that's an insane YoY uptick!)

Those numbers only continue to grow, with items like the Impossible Burger and Quorn making their way onto fast-food menus.

There is a real demand for plant-based and vegan menu options, and the best part is, you don’t have to be a completely vegan restaurant to do this. One easy way to appeal to this consumer diet is by developing a vegan menu or plat-based menu items. Check out these easy steps to help you get started.

  1. Do your research. Take a look at what restaurants are doing locally and nationally when it comes to vegan food. Go out and try plant-based dishes at other establishments. See how they list things on their menu, how it’s presented, how it tastes. In your research, you’ll find ideas you want to riff on, or you may even spot a need that is not being met in your local restaurant community.
  2. Audit your menu. Now is a good time to review your entire menu, see what’s working and what can be taken away. The menu items you shed will leave a space for you to get creative with your new, vegan menu development.
  3. See about swaps. There are so many options out there when it comes to vegan and plant-based alternatives. See what you cant sub them in for on your menu. Think about incorporating nut milk in place of dairy, agave nectar instead of honey, or jackfruit for pulled pork. Swapping in a plant-based item allows you to be more vegan-friendly without reinventing the wheel.
  4. Survey your guests. Whether it’s by having your servers ask in person, a comment card, or a survey you send to your email list, getting insight about what your existing customers want in a vegan menu will set your recipe development up for success.
  5. Get feedback. This should be an ongoing process. As you’re testing out new dishes, have the staff taste it and weigh in. Get insight from regulars by letting them try samples of what you are working on. Even as your vegan items go live on the menu, make sure you have a way of collecting ongoing feedback so you can keep on perfecting them.

[Photo: Ella Olsson via Unsplash]