Why offer vegan options?
There are over half a million vegans in the UK and over two million vegetarians.* Half the vegetarians are dairy-free and a quarter are moving towards vegan or aspiring to do so.
Many vegetarians are trying to reduce or omit animal products like dairy and eggs from their diet and lots of meat-eaters are meat-reducing for environmental or health reasons. It therefore makes sense to default to vegan for all or most of your meat-free options!
Vegan options are the most inclusive. Everyone can eat vegan food but the reverse is not true.
It's the UK's largest lifestyle sector and growing fast.
Market research shows that mixed parties of diners are more likely to eat where their vegan members are well-catered for.
Caterers in every sphere have seen an unprecedented rise in requests for vegan food. This change is very much here to stay.
Successful chain Las Iguanas says: We're all about fresh food and capturing the diversity and eclecticism of South America so it seems natural to us to cook food that everyone can enjoy. That’s why we have spent a lot of time working on not just our vegan and veggie menus but also our processes to ensure best practice in the kitchen. Latin food lends itself fantastically to vegan dishes like our punchy veggie chilli or our sweet and delicious mango and pecan salad with avocado. This summer we are introducing a creamy, delicious - and all vegan - coconut pudding. Where we can offer that choice it seems mad not to and the feedback we get from guests and positive comments flying around on social media back this up!
John Quigley, patron and head chef of central Glasgow restaurant Red Onion
In a previous job I was a private chef to vegan rock star Bryan Adams and as this became public knowledge more and more customers asked if we had vegan options available. So as we believe in making all our customers feel inclusive, it made sense to offer vegan, gluten free vegan, gluten free, dairy free and gluten free dairy free variations of all our menus. This also encourages mixed groups to dine with us as everyone is accommodated. By accident, it has been one of the most successful pieces of marketing we have done, with up to 20 vegan customers a day.
Salvatore Persano of Pepe Nero Organic, Bristol has been offering vegan options for years.
Our motto at Pepenero is pizza for everyone! That's why we decided to embrace the vegan style for our pizza after chatting with one of the Viva! staff. We are always looking to expand our business by meeting customer needs and we don't want to exclude anyone - along with the ethical and health reasons. We tickle our vegan customers' palate not only with pizza but also with our antipasti, lasagne, cannelloni and our delicious vegan cakes. And we recently launched our own in-house vegan gelateria! We are proud of our great reputation among the vegan community. And thanks to their word-of-mouth our customers are growing rapidly, so it's been a good choice from a business point of view too. So, when people ask 'why vegan?' I always answer 'why not?!'
All in all, it makes sense for you to make a few simple tweaks to your menus. It’s not as confusing as it may seem! This guide aims to clear up any difficulties you may have – and help you optimise profits.
Forget the 70s stereotypes. Modern vegan cuisine is fresh and fabulous. See our recipe sections for plenty of great ideas.
Inclusivity is the key
Vegan food isn’t just for vegans – did you ever hear of a meat-eater saying ‘Oh, I can’t eat beans on toast/roast vegetables/hummus /asparagus risotto because it’s vegan?’ It’s all in the perception! Making your vegetarian options vegan (or serving non-vegan ingredients like parmesan separately) saves you time and effort. Why? Because providing delicious vegan options means that you include vegetarians, the lactose-intolerant – as well as meat-eaters and meat-reducers who like good food.