Consumers Are Demanding Plant-Based Menu Options
Non-commercial foodservice operators are seeing a growing interest in plant-based diets among consumers. This is supported by the fact that about 15% of the overall population is following a vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian diet some of the time, thanks in part to the popularization of customization, sustainability, and healthier dining options. Driven by a younger demographic, especially millennials and Gen Z, plant-based meals are of growing interest because they are low in fat, sodium, added sugars, and processed ingredients and drive the local economy because operators are buying more local produce. Decreasing the use of as many meat products lowers inventory costs which positively impacts budgets, improves diets, and drives a healthier bottom line.
In what ways can the non-commercial foodservice industry support the increasing popularity and demand for plant-based menus?
While this is not a new idea by any means, Meatless Mondays are not as common in the non-commercial foodservice industry since they are more of a personal choice. To promote this concept, operators can:
- Replace carving stations with roasted veggie stations
- Turn any burger specials into veggie burger specials
- Menu daily soup specials that don’t include meat
- Replace any meat in salad bars with tofu, falafel, tempeh, seeds, and nuts
Vegetables as a Meat Substitute
Could you imagine eating what you thought was a buffalo chicken bite only to find out that it wasn’t chicken at all? Cauliflower has made quite a name for itself over the past decade as a substitute for meat thanks to its firm texture and is also substituted for pizza crust, rice, hummus, and bread products. A variety of vegetables are also commonly combined to create menu-able dishes like veggie burgers, stews, soups, casseroles, and salads. The concept of the “bowl” also continues to increase in popularity due to customization options and the ability to combine desired ingredients with exotic flavors to create something delicious.
Consumers still need their protein so what products are meat substitutes but still provided important nutrients?
- Lentils are versatile and offer health benefits including that they make you feel fuller for longer periods of time, they lower blood pressure, and help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Use lentils to create soups, stews, veggie burgers, sandwiches or wraps, and salads.
- Tempeh is a soy product that’s a great source of probiotics. It’s firm and chewy, similar to animal meat, and absorbs flavors well, making it a good substitution when fried, baked, or grilled in many dishes.
- Tofu, another soy product, ranges from soft to firm and can be made into many different options from a smooth sauce or smoothie to something fried on the grill.
- Seeds and nuts can be ground up and added to recipes or sprinkled into many dishes like a lunch salad or dinner entrée for a subtle boost of protein.
Update Your Menu with Plant-Based Options Now
There are many unique ways to incorporate plant-based items on menus and foodservice operators who have already begun to support this trend are enjoying many benefits, like:
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Better relationships within the community
- Improved sustainability practices
- Lower costs
The consumer demand for options that support plant-based diets is there, so why wait to update your online ordering menu? If you’re a current CaterTrax client, simply submit a support ticket with any menu additions and/or revisions and our Menu Team will complete your request.
If you don’t currently offer customers an online ordering solution, learn how our catering management software, the TRAX Platform, can streamline and grow your foodservice operation through powerful solutions tailored to meet your unique business needs.