With nearly a third of consumers (31%) describing themselves as flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan, savvy operators must consider plant-based options for their takeaway and food-to-go options.
Gold&Green Foods has conducted independent research into what consumers are looking for when it comes to takeaway, with nearly a third (32%) of those surveyed stating they want new plant-based options and 23% looking for 'more exciting' dishes.
In terms of cuisine, 76% would like to see a vegetarian barbecue offering in the takeaway market, with Indian (63%) and Mexican (61%) also popular choices.
The results follow the success of this year's Veganuary, during which half a million people pledged to take part. Research from NPD Group suggest that plant-based food sales have more than doubled (+243%) during the pandemic.
Speaking about the survey, Simon Solway, country manager for out of home and retail, UK and Ireland at Gold&Green Foods, said: "With more people than ever ordering takeaway and home delivery due to lockdown, the demand for exciting vegan and vegetarian options has skyrocketed.
"Our survey showed 46% of consumers are actively reducing their meat intake and 30% eat plant-based for ethical reasons. But over half of those consumers are limited to ordering salads (56%), burgers (56%) and wraps (52%), which means there's a very real opportunity for those fast-food operators who expand their offering."
Flavour (77%), appeal (74%) and a good texture (57%) were found to be the top three factors consumers look for when choosing a vegetarian or vegan dish. And with greater awareness about food provenance and nutrition, other important factors included natural ingredients (65%), high protein (56%) and not being overly processed (34%).
Solway added: "The last year has taught us that health is everything. Consumers have a new enthusiasm for quality, natural ingredients that aren't grown in a lab, or contain a bunch of numbers they don't recognise. They want meat substitutes, but they don't want weird artificial meat (50%), which is why Gold&Green Foods is getting a lot of interest in Pulled Oats, as it's seen as a viable high protein alternative, with more protein than beef or chicken, and good texture."