Vegan or Bust? Why UK restaurants can’t ignore the meat-free movement.

Posted on 03/11/2017 · Posted in Food and Drink, Palm PR

According to the Vegan Society, veganism is now one of Britain’s “fastest growing lifestyle movements” and has increased by 260% over the past ten years.

What was once seen as a niche brown-sandal wearing sector is now building momentum and positively moving mainstream. In addition to die hard veganism, the trend for #meatfreemondays and flexitarianism means a flurry of fair-weather vegans looking for free-from options regularly when dining.

Restaurants are launching which replicate the experience of meat-fuelled dude food with plant based ingredients. For example, Temple of Seitan, the UK’s first vegan chicken shop announced plans for a second site in January 2018. Initially trading as a street food business, the owners have confirmed the new site located in Camden will have indoor seating, referring to it as “a ‘proper restaurant’ rather than their standard takeaway spot”.

Chains are innovating to keep up with demand from plant-based punters: Pret A Manger is celebrating the success of its independent ‘Veggie Pret’, with a third new opening. Institutions such as Mildreds are opening further sites to keep up with the demands. Zizzi has incorporated vegan cheese into its menu. Using a new and cutting-edge ingredient, such as vegan halloumi, not only drives the restaurant’s vegan offering, but also highlights that they are constantly looking to innovate, which is a key consideration for consumers.

Alternatively, collaborating with a well-known chef, or vegan influencer, could also help drive more sales and bookings, as social media is one of the biggest platforms that the vegan community use to communicate and engage with each other and brands.

Veggie options were always such an after-thought on menus, lacking flair, innovation – and most importantly flavour. However, forward-thinking restaurants now offer credible vegan dishes that are tempting to carnivores and vegans alike. This new creativity in ingredients and techniques – and imagination – has really been the driving force to redress the balance in restaurant offerings.

But what about the restaurants that have based their whole ethos on meat? Well the brave ones are prepared to innovate so that they don’t miss out on the growing vegan audience. Meat institution Foxlow have announced the launch of a vegan menu, claiming “We are not vegans, but we regularly want to eat like one. Not just for health and wellbeing, but because vegetables are delicious”.

With the rise of veganism showing no signs of slowing and a number of credible motivators including health, sustainability and ethics driving the growth, restaurants need to innovate to remain relevant to this audience.