You may have seen that Dublin has been voted the most vegan-friendly city. A fifth of the city’s restaurants are classified as vegan-friendly, which is more than any other city
This points to the huge response amongst the on-trade to the growth in plant-based lifestyles. Indeed, there was a 230% increase in the number of vegan and vegetarian options on menus in 2018. Whether it be a vegan option at the local pub, or offering a whole vegan menu at Wagamamas, consumers now expect vegan-friendly options, and aren’t bashful about asking for more than a salad and chips these days when eating out – and the on-trade is delivering.
However, it’s not just about satisfying the needs of the occasional vegan guest. It is about being seen to offer a range of more sustainable options to meet the expectations of the growing number of people following a Flexitarian diet. It’s about recognising that more and more consumers are following a Flexitarian lifestyle, where they dip in and out of plant-based eating, incorporating plant-based dishes into their repertoire to satisfy their curiosity and desire to experiment, as well as their desire to be more sustainably responsible.
Even if many of these Flexitarian lifestyle followers don’t actually end up choosing the plant-based option once at the table, it is often the plant-based options that will encourage consideration and footfall. Plant-based options have become an Access Factor.
Furthermore, the menu is the manifestation of the brand values, and to engage and connect with this audience, the menu has to resonate.
Although they may be chosen less often, plant based options do need to be on the menu to get those that are intending to eat sustainably through the door.
Catherine Horner is Qualitative Director at Caroline Thompson Associates, a boutique research agency with expertise in innovation and branding in the plant-based market. Catherine has a background in brand development and planning, and is a specialist qualitative research consultant.