3 Ways to Capitalise on the Growing Vegan Trend in Restaurants in the UK

In recent years we have seen plant-based and vegan diets reshape the hospitality industry.  Growing concerns over health and sustainability saw the number of Vegans in the UK quadruple between 2014 and 2019.  In 2019 there were an estimated 600,000* vegans in the UK; that’s 1.16% of the population!

The hospitality industry has reacted to this growing consumer demand. Vegan offerings are now available from the likes of McDonalds and Greggs right through to Michelin-starred restaurants. 

The plant-based trend is here to stay and this is great news for you!

Here’s why…

Vegan falafels in a wrap

1. You Can Gain New Customers

When you diversify to cater for a broader range of dietary requirements you appeal to more customers. If a group are looking to eat together this is an important factor; you don’t want to be ruled out because of a lack of plant-based dishes. 

We support our customers with diversification by helping them to rework their menu layout and maximise their appeal for all dietary requirements.  We take our customers to chef development days to see new products being cooked and get ideas about building them into menus.

Offering a good mix of vegetarian and vegan dishes ensures that you are perceived as an inclusive venue. Making this change will avoid pushing custom away while encouraging new customers through your doors.

2. You Can Improve Your Profitability

Catering for customer demand is a key reason to add vegan dishes to the menu. The good news is that these dishes can also improve your profitability.

The high cost of meat makes plant-based meals more profitable. Therefore with plant-based meal options, you can lower the price point while increasing your margins.

To capitalise on this, you need to make sure that your plant-based meals are as exciting as the other options.  There has been great improvement in plant-based meat alternatives recently and they have risen in popularity even among meat-eaters.  

Growing consumer interest is even generating investment in some very innovative food production techniques. Legendary Vish’s 3D-printed salmon filets are a great example. These fish-free filets are made from high-value plant-based ingredients including mushroom proteins and algae extracts!

As a team, we get product development alerts from wholesalers so we can make sure our customers are the first to know about new meat alternative products.  From new vegan cheeses to the best meatless burgers, we ensure our customers are first to hear about new products.  

Buying partners like Trade Together can also help you to seek out certified suppliers and work on costings to ensure your vegan dishes are as tasty and profitable as possible.

3. You Can Maximise Your Veganuary Appeal

A record 400,000 people worldwide signed up to the Veganuary movement in 2020.  Although for many this may be a temporary health kick, it is a fabulous opportunity to attract customers during a usually quiet period.

Lots of people taking part in Veganuary are looking for opportunities to discover ways of enjoying their new plant-based diet.  By ensuring that your menu appeals to their demands, you will attract a new range of customers looking for healthy options in the new year.

If the three reasons above aren’t compelling enough, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a boom in veganism in 2020.   

According to research, 12% of Brits say a vegan diet is now more attractive (Mintel).  The infographic below highlights some of the other key statistics for vegan dining trends in the U.K.

As the hospitality industry opens after the lockdown, updating your menu to offer more profitable dishes that also bring you new customers could be a very beneficial approach.

Infographic: 2020 Vegan Trends for Restaurants and Gastropubs in the U.K.

Infographic: 2020 Vegan Trends for restaurants and Gastropubs in the UK

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* Data from a 2019 survey by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the National Centre for Social Science Research (Natcen)