In recent years the dietary and lifestyle choice of veganism have grown in popularity and many restaurant owners are wondering how they can accommodate this bustling population. Being both health centered and ecologically conscious, this lifestyle is as commendable as it is fashionable. Vegans choose to eliminate the use of as many animal products as possible from their daily life. While many may be dubious about their dietary choices this group is one centered around care and compassion for animals, themselves, and the planet.
With the rate of people choosing veganism worldwide increasing steadily as more research and advancements are made in that sector, how can the restaurant owner accommodate this shift?
While some vegans may refuse to eat in a restaurant that serves meat, dairy, or eggs to their conventional customers, others still are more concerned with blending their new choices into their existing lifestyle. This means they want to have the freedom to eat at places that were their favorites before they switched to veganism.
Chefs and restaurant owners do not need to revamp their entire menu just to accommodate the changing dietary preferences of a portion of their clientele but there are a few cost-effective ways to add vegan-friendly options to an existing menu:
- Suggest plant based substitutions for proteins. Many side dishes like vegetables and starches are already vegan but are used to compliment an animal protein like steak or fish. Try keeping a marinated tempeh or tofu on hand for vegans, or even heads of cauliflower that can be cut into steaks and grilled to use as substitutions.
- Increase your options for sides. Many restaurants offer side dishes to order individually on their menu. This is one way many vegans find something to eat when they go to a conventional restaurant. List all side dishes served at the restaurant in a different part of the menu. Be sure to label which are vegan-friendly!
- Add variety to your salad menu. The salad menu at restaurants is often overlooked and reserved for those on diets and other non-adventurers. Try moving beyond Caesar and garden salads and offer a budget- and vegan-friendly lentil, bean, or roasted root vegetable salad dressed with fresh citrus and herb vinaigrette.
- Don’t forget dessert. Those who choose a vegan lifestyle may be doing so for humanitarian or health reasons, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t looking to indulge. Sorbets, full-fat coconut milk ice creams and puddings, dark chocolate confections with fruit fillings, and cookies that replace fat with nut butters are some simple suggestions that, if labeled vegan-friendly in your menu, are sure to be ordered with frequency.
A Word of Caution
Be aware of cross contamination when preparing vegan meals. Many individuals who choose vegan menu items may be doing so because of an allergy to dairy or eggs. Additionally, vegans who are distantly removed from the omnivorous life can become very sick after consuming animal products. Always be sure to wash, rinse, and sanitize all surfaces and materials before cooking a vegan meal in a conventional kitchen.