Nation’s Restaurant News recently listed “adding vegetarian and vegan options” as number nine in its list of the top 50 ways to improve business. This suggestion makes sense, considering recent trends toward vegetarian eating.  For example:

  • The National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2010” survey found that the majority of chefs list vegetarian entrees as a “Hot Trend” and 25% list them as a “Perennial Favorite.”
  • A 2011 study found that 50% of Americans are aware of the ‘Meatless Mondays’ movement, and research funded by the American Meat Institute found that 18% of Americans participate in Meatless Mondays.

What to serve

Many restaurants across the country are now using meat alternatives or “mock meats.” Founding Farmers—one of Washington, D.C.’s most popular restaurants—recently added an all-vegan menu including numerous chicken alternatives and vegan cheese. Even KFC in Canada offers a vegan fried “chicken” sandwich using vegetarian chicken. Chipotle is testing a tofu Sofritas made by Oakland-based Hodo Soy Beanery in Northern California stores. Some of the most popular meat alternative products are made by Garden Protein and Tofurky (for deli slices); they can be stored and prepared using the same methods and recipes as their meat counterparts, making adding meatless items easy for any kitchen. The most popular and easy-to-use brand of vegan cheese is Daiya.

Your food distributor should stock or have access to these products. Sysco and US Foods offer a wide variety of meat alternative products, like those listed above. In Oakland, Layonna sells ready-to-prepare vegetarian chicken, ham, shrimp, and more.

Other restaurants simply keep their menus full of vegetable-based items. Ethnic vegetarian entrees including tofu and hearty vegetable combinations are popular. And national chains including Burger King, Johnny Rockets, Chili’s and Denny’s offer veggie burgers.

Mercy for Animals’ Vegetarian Resource Guide for Restaurants is a comprehensive guide containing all of the information you’ll need to get started, implement menu changes, and promote new vegetarian items to your customers. Email us for help creating and marketing your new vegetarian options.