It's not too late to hop on the vegan trend, and Zoe West has some advice on how to start by taking your menu over to the green side
Plant-based food has taken the culinary world by storm in recent years, and it's clear that it can no longer be dismissed as a passing fad. The industry is set to be worth $30b by 2026 according to Statista, giving businesses an exciting opportunity to get involved in the plant-based buzz.
The proliferation of plant-based options has been driven by Veganuary as well as increasingly eco-conscious consumers and a move towards health-focused eating after the Covid-19 pandemic. More people identify as vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian than ever before, which means there's a higher demand for plant-based options on menus. It's not too late to be part of the plant-powered movement and now is the perfect time for businesses to get on board.
Take advantage of the Veganuary effect
Veganuary is a non-profit organisation that aims to inspire people to try vegan for January and beyond, and since launching in 2014, millions of people all over the world have taken on the challenge. Now that Veganuary has become a key fixture in the calendar it's the perfect time for businesses to launch and promote plant-based options.
However, lots of businesses aren't aware that Veganuary is a free marketing tool available all year-round. By launching new vegan offerings in January and throughout the year, businesses have been instrumental in helping create hype around plant-based food and meeting the newly created demand.
In the UK alone, more than 700 new vegan menu items were launched during Veganuary 2022, with many businesses reporting a significant increase in sales throughout the month. For example, Las Iguanas restaurants saw a 400% increase in uptake of Veganuary products, and the Queen Inn pub in south Wales had their most successful month ever, inspiring them to make their menu permanently vegan. The ‘Veganuary effect' is proof that the plant-based movement is here to stay and highlights the scope of opportunity for businesses to expand in this space.
How to launch plant-based dishes
Being a newbie in the plant-based world can feel like a minefield, but the good news is that there's so much innovation and creativity to be inspired by already. To start with, it can be as simple as ‘veganising' the most popular dish on the menu to give it a new twist and create intrigue. This has worked well for many businesses, including Greggs and McDonald's. Consumers are also more likely to try something new that's still familiar to them and has price parity with the non-vegan version.
Look at the starters, main courses and desserts on your menu and consider matching the best sellers in terms of taste and cuisine type. Make the plant-based items stand out among your current menu items. Highlight different protein sources to show that meat doesn't need to be the main event, and let vegetables, beans and pulses take centre stage.
Businesses can also look for gaps in the market. Are there any traditional dishes that don't have a vegan alternative? The Veganuary 2022 Participant Survey found that products people missed the most were seafood, eggs, pastries, doughnuts, cakes and desserts.
Do your research and use trial and error to decide which plant-based additions are likely to attract customers. Let's face it: a plain baked potato or a drab salad won't cut it anymore! Don't be scared of getting it wrong and be open to feedback. For more information or support, contact Veganuary's corporate team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zoe West is senior corporate engagement specialist for Veganuary
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