Vegan cuisine: it’s not just for vegans anymore

Back in the early 2010s, if you were a vegan dining out at a typical American restaurant, you didn’t have many options. For example, in 2012, only 11.3% of fast casual menus had a vegan option.

You’d have been lucky if you’d found a veggie side dish that didn’t include butter, sour cream or some other hidden animal-based ingredient. Some ethnic cuisines were a safe harbor for vegans, especially Indian and other Asian cuisines.

If you go back even further…well, suffice it to say that there were a lot of vegans and vegetarians who didn’t enjoy dining out.

Oh how things have changed.

Huge Vegan Growth

Now almost half of fast casual menus have a vegan option on the menu, and Datassential forecasts 101% growth in vegan options on menus over the next four years. It’s across all segments and all over the country. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to find a data point that contradicts the growth of vegan cuisine. As far as the term “plant-based”, its use has seen astronomical growth since the concept of plant-based meat was first introduced in 2016.

Today, almost anything can be made vegan. Vegan pretzels. Vegan pizza. Vegan orange chicken lo mein. Vegan croissants. At this point you can find plant-based ground beef and sausage patties just about anywhere, and it won’t be long before plant-based pepperoni, eggs, and salmon are just as ubiquitous.

It’s worth noting that vegan food and plant-based foods are not the same thing. A plant-based food is always vegan, but vegan food isn’t always plant-based. An Oreo cookie, for example, is vegan, but it has ingredients that are not derived from plants.

As far as giving oneself a vegan or plant-based label, that can get more complicated. People who are vegan will not consume or use food/products that contain or are made from animal products (often for ethical reasons). People who describe themselves as plant-based, favor meals that are plant-forward (usually for health reasons), but are willing to stray from that eating preference if the occasion arises.

Who is Vegan Anyway?

Many people might assume that younger consumers– those in the Gen Z demographic specifically– would be driving this increase in vegan options. In fact, other than Boomers, there are not that many more Gen Z declaring themselves as vegan than there are Gen X or Millennial. Datassential does find, however, that Gen Z is more likely to make meal and snack choices on the whole that contain fruit or vegetables.

In fact, it’s not an increase of actual declared vegans that is driving the growth of vegan menu options. Instead, customers are demanding more vegan and plant-based options because they want to eat healthy, and they recognize that decreasing meat consumption– if not eliminating it entirely– is a good way to do that.

According to Datassential, 49% of people who choose meat alternatives do so for that reason– they believe it’s healthier. Other reasons include because they want to try something new and because they are trying to cut back on meat and dairy.

But the motivation behind it and the use of the personal labels hardly matter if you’re in the business of serving food to people. Some people will always eat vegan. Even more will only sometimes eat vegan. The only thing you need to know is that people you’re serving want vegan options.

As you build your vegan menu, keep in mind those folks who are choosing vegan foods because they want to try something new. It shows us that modern consumers are adventurous and willing to experiment, especially when dining out. Here is where All Friends comes in. Our beverage infusions level up your menu- vegan or otherwise.

All Friends and Vegan Food

Flavor forward

When we created All Friends, we analyzed piles of consumer data to make sure we hit all the right notes. One thing that stood out most among all that research is that flavor is king. So that was our focus.

Pairing focused

As you develop your menus with vegan options, you can be confident that there will be an All Friends Beverage to take it up a notch. Think Blueberry Chai with a healthy grain bowl, Pineapple Ginger with plant-based Korean BBQ wings and Mango Chili with vegan samosas. Your customers will love the ability to experiment in their beverage as much as they do in their cuisine, and you’ll love the added revenue.

Function infused

Our beverages meet the FDA’s standards to be an excellent source of Vitamin C, B3, B5, B6, B12 E, zinc and selenium. Finally we’ve topped it off with added hydration from sodium and potassium electrolytes. These are the functions your customers want with the flavors they crave.

Operator friendly

All Friends Beverages are designed for you to simply add water and go. That ensures higher margins with less labor. And it can be used in multiple formats. Put it in a bubbler, a pitcher or simply pour it over water. You can also combine each flavor with others in the lineup.

All Friends Blueberry Chai Glass
All Friends Mango Chili Glass
All Friends Strawberry Hibiscus Glass
All Friends Pineapple Ginger Glass