The growing plant-based food market
Meat accounts for nearly 60% of all greenhouse gases from food production, a University of Illinois study found out last year. As global warming progresses, plant-based consumption is increasing in many parts of the world. Although the motivations vary, from helping prevent climate change, protecting animals, to health concerns, the number of people adhering to a plant-based diet has significantly increased over the last decade.
With one of the highest rates of vegetarianism in Europe – nearly 10% of the population – Germany has a vastly rising vegan and vegetarian community. At the end of 2018, the German food book Commission published new guidelines for vegetarian and vegan food, regarding manufacturing, commercial practices, and costumer expectation with respect to vegan and vegetarian food products that have a sensory similarity to products of animal origin. Furthermore, Germany has established official definitions of vegan and vegetarian for food labeling.
According to a recent study from 2021, where 5300 participants from six European countries were asked about their attitude toward nutrition and environmental protection, among other aspects, more than 50% of non-vegan participants in Germany said they intend to reduce their consumption of animal-derived products in the future, more than 80% of vegetarians reported they want to go vegan in the future and one in every five Europeans is already flexitarian, consciously reducing meat consumption.
Why should restaurants offer vegan food options?
Since plant-based food is one of the most popular culinary trends of the decade and is expected to continue to grow over the next years, the demand for vegetarian and vegan options in restaurants has increased. Another significant target market for (European) restaurant owners are lactose-intolerant consumers. In Northern European nations like Sweden and Finland, lactose intolerance is extremely common. The biggest percentages of lactose-intolerant consumers were found in Germany, Italy, Spain, and Turkey. Given the overwhelming numbers, it is crucial for restaurant owners and managers to understand the increasing demand and the importance of catering to this now extremely popular way of eating. Limiting the availability of plant-based foods may result in losing revenue from a sizable consumer base. It is valid to note that the cost of ingredients required for vegan recipes may cost restaurants a little bit more. However, most vegan, and vegetarian costumers appear to understand this and are willing to spend more for the plant-based alternatives they are looking for.
Restaurants need to adapt to a new demand
The rising demand for innovative and attractive plant-based recipes should be considered for all types of eateries, as every restaurant should provide consumers with at least a few vegan options to stay competitive in the market. It is important for restaurant owners or managers, to educate their teams to understand plant-based diets and learn how to properly prepare vegetarian and vegan food. Looking into vendors that offer plant-based foods and essential ingredients for a vegan diet is something to prioritize in future. Luckily, culinary schools around the globe are picking up the trend and an expert in cooking vegan food may teach your team how to prepare vegan meals.
Understanding plant-based diets and staying up to date with this culinary style is essential to running a profitable restaurant today, regardless of whether you operate a specifically vegan business or not.