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Veganuary: Plant-based dishes on your menu

Veganuary – The rise of plant-based diets

There has been a big drive in recent years to encourage people to consider reducing the amount of meat in their diets. Like it or not, it is certainly a factor in the marketplace and something that could present an opportunity

There’s no doubt that we consume more meat than previous generations. As recently in the 1950s, the standard British diet would have consisted of fish on Friday, Sunday roast and three days of leftovers like shepherd’s pie. For the rest of the week eggs or cheese would have provided most of the protein.

We were far from vegan back then, but we did eat a lot more veg and less meat, of course, this was heavily related to the continued effects of rationing. Some of these themes surfaced during the lockdown. With people looking to grow their own vegetables and even make their own bread.

Why are people reducing meat consumption?

Whilst we’re mercifully spared from the home sourdough pictures these days some of the thinking remains. People are paying more attention to the variety of produce they consume, its provenance, and health benefits.

Health: It’s no secret that a heavily meat-based diet means more saturated fat and cholesterol, and can contribute to a number of health problems. Whilst cutting meat out entirely is not for everyone, The NHS recommends reducing red meat consumption to no more than 70g a day.

The Environment: This is a complicated area, but plant-based diets can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint. However, the carbon footprint of a Guatemalan avocado may be less than that of a Lincolnshire sausage.

Animal Welfare: This is a big factor for many people, and if it doesn’t drive them to veganism, it certainly makes them more conscious of where their meat comes from and how it is prepared.

You can see these factors at play in the fact that Deliveroo reported a 115% growth in vegan orders and it is one of the fastest-growing categories on the platform. You may also have noticed “Veganuary” gaining popularity.

What is Veganuary?

Is dry January not depressing enough? Well, try cutting out meat and dairy too!

Veganuary is a charity founded in 2014, that encourages non-vegans to follow a vegan diet during the month of January. It has participants from over 200 countries and 580,000 people signed up this year. The charity does have “an end to animal farming” as its goal, and we certainly don’t support this. It highlights the health and environmental benefits of the vegan diet, and although 580,000 people is not a huge amount, there are many more who are choosing to cut out meat during the month.

Whilst not all customers will be participating, having a vegan option could prove a useful marketing tool in a difficult month.

Adding plant-based options to your menu

Simply adding a vegan dish for a month probably won’t bring in many new customers, similarly, it should complement your existing menu. You can create vegan alternatives to your most popular dishes or create dishes that use the same produce as your current dishes. This also reduces the chances of waste and helps lower the complexity when adding new dishes. The true test is if it’s an option that appeals to non-vegans as well.

Many consumers like to know exactly what ingredients they are eating, including that they are from a trustworthy source. Being able to say your ingredients are freshly prepared on-site and with local provenance is important for everything on your menu and something many more customers look out for.

We have some great suppliers who offer vegan-friendly products, and our experts can help towards creating a plant-based option for your menus. Enquire here now.

Are there any GP benefits of plant-based meals?

Will your business survive if you don’t cater for vegans? Probably, however, it’s never a good idea to ignore a growing sector of the market and could prove a competitive advantage over your neighbours.

One key factor is that having a vegan option could affect large group bookings. One vegan in a party of 20 might mean the difference between booking a table with you and the place down the road without a vegan option.

There’s another more subtle advantage: a plant-based dish will on average have a higher GP than a meat-based one. Meat right now is expensive, mainly due to both Covid-19 and Brexit, costs of production and imports have risen in recent months. Prime meat items with special cuts such as steaks also have a much lower GP than most ingredients, it’s not a reason to take your steak off the menu, but a dish with plant-based protein as its main ingredient is likely to have a higher GP. This makes vegans profitable customers.

For some more GP tips, check out our Chief Exec’s article here.

Don’t chuck out the chops yet!

Many of the underlying factors leading to the rise of plant-based diets drive customer choice in all areas of food. People are more health-conscious and want quality ingredients when eating out. They care about the environment and being able to show local provenance and even food miles on the menu is a big factor. People are also concerned with the whole journey of their food “from farm to fork”, regardless of its meat content.

We work with hundreds of expert local suppliers across the UK. They are passionate about the fresh food they deliver, as you are about the food you serve. With Menu Fresh’s national network, you get the benefits of locally sourced food, with the benefit of fair and competitive pricing, wherever you are in the UK. Find out more here.