The number of consumers leaning toward plant-based diets is increasing, but are restaurants heeding the call for plant-based foods? As the dining trend of 2018, plant-based foods were in excessive demand throughout the year, leading 51% of U.S. chefs to add vegan items to their menu. While this number is impressive, a large segment of the industry is still missing the mark, leaving vegetarian, vegan, and flexitarian customers behind.
Plant-based options aren’t just for vegans and vegetarians – meat eaters looking for healthier options and those with concerns for sustainability will also be drawn to plant-based items. Take the time to align your operation with plant-based trends and alternative products, and implement a plant-based strategy that keeps your operation current and your traffic, sales, and profits high.
The Plant-Based Key to Success
It’s no longer enough to menu a salad or veggie burger as your go-to vegetarian offering. Consumers with plant-based lifestyles want to invest in brands that serve innovative items with plant-based proteins and adventurous flavors. The bottom line is that menus lacking plant-based diversity will be passed up for more veg-friendly competitors.
Get creative with your current inventory to create craveable, fulfilling, and visually appealing veg-based options. Primarily driven by produce, Mediterranean cuisine is a perfect plant-based platform. Items like a Mediterranean chickpea and root vegetable hash with tzatziki or a trendy flatbread topped with falafel, smoked yogurt, harissa, and mixed greens can be highlighted as plant-based and made with items that are likely already stocked in your kitchen.
Allowing your chefs time to experiment with plant alternatives will also help spark creativity. Aquafaba, the liquid that chickpeas are soaked in, has an egg-like consistency and can be used as a stand-in for eggs in mayonnaise, dips, meatballs, desserts, and more. The more substitutes your chefs are familiar with, the easier it will be for them to build flavorful veg-centric dishes.
Once you add more plant-forward items to your menu, make sure to call them out with an acronym or symbol. Another great strategy to attract more plant-based customers is to include these terms on your website, social platforms, and sites like Yelp to increase chances of your restaurant
Adding Alternative Products to Your Repertoire
It’s not necessary to reimagine your entire menu to incorporate plant-based options. Here are some ways to easily swap out meat- or dairy- based products for appealing plant-based alternatives. Contact your Maines Territory Manager for more information on the many plant-based items available.
Cream is the staple in various dishes across the menu, making plant-based cream a game-changer for chefs. Whether utilized in breakfast batters, soups, sauces, or desserts, consumers with dietary restrictions can delight in the same indulgent cream-based dishes as others do with conventional cream. Even the most discerning of palates won’t be able to tell that the rich Alfredo sauce or cheesecake they’re eating is dairy-free.
Try it with Rich’s Plant-Based Cooking Crème
With a modern take on vegetables, veggie tots appeal to health-minded, convenience-seeking customers who want to increase their vegetable intake in an indulgent way, as well as diners looking for kid-friendly options. Menu Instagram-worthy dishes like veggie tater tot waffles that can also be listed as gluten-free, or create a range of unique veggie tot sides such as fried Nashville hot tots or jalapeño-tomato-queso fresco skillet tots.
Get creative with Green Giant Broccoli & Cheese Veggie Tots and Cauliflower Veggie Tots
THE IMPOSSIBLE™ BURGER 2.0
The Impossible Burger 2.0 has the look, taste, and texture of a standard burger but is made with plants and has less sodium and fat, yet the same amount of protein as an authentic beef burger. This alternative product will appeal not only to vegans and vegetarians but also to health-conscious carnivores and those with a concern for sustainability. Offer traditional burger toppings and a signature sauce, or enhance the plant-based aspect of the Impossible Burger by topping it with salt-cured carrot bacon. To go beyond a basic burger, transform this plant-based patty into Impossible Burger meatballs and serve atop pasta or in a vegan pho offering.
Learn more about the Impossible™ Burger 2.0
Hummus adds plant-based flair to any menu item. With endless possibilities for an innovative base element, hummus builds the flavor profile and aesthetics of dishes across your menu. In place of chickpeas, experiment with ingredients such as beets, avocado, lentils, and sweet potatoes. Enhance it further by adding textural contrasts and added flavor intensity with creative toppers such as za’atar-roasted tomatoes, pickled beets, shredded chicken shawarma, miso-glazed shishito peppers, or maple-sriracha bacon.
Save time and labor with Bush’s Best Classic Hummus Made Easy
Being in-tune with the plant-based scene is something that won’t go unnoticed with your customers. It will showcase your knowledge of industry trends, your stance on sustainability, and your culinary creativity. With skyrocketing demands, plant-based foods are profitable and help your operation evolve into a trendy, approachable place diners of all eating styles can depend on for a flavorful, filling meal.