As the issues of climate change and sustainability become more urgent, many experts advise us to try and limit our consumption of meat, so plant-based foods are more and more common on restaurant menus. . The trend towards plant-based menu items originated with a veggie burger, but now plant-based options are becoming available in all kinds of categories.
Plant-based dishes are making headlines and social media shares. Managers report that herbal menu items attract new customers. Restaurants are capitalizing on this excitement by piloting interesting new menu items that are high in protein and plant-based. The latest announcements reflect emerging trends in the restaurant world, from casual take out and fast food restaurants to fine dining establishments.
Offering plant-based dishes helps restaurants cater to a wide variety of customers. Plant-based entrees can differentiate a restaurant from its competitor by generating interest in a restaurant’s menu, infusing innovation and creativity, and aligning a brand with customer values of health and environmental sustainability. . This is because rich plant-based foods like pulses and grains offer restaurants several advantages, including lower costs, longer shelf life than animal products, and lower price volatility.
A recent Gallup study found that 41% of people in the United States have tried plant-based meats – and of those respondents, 60% said they were likely to continue eating them. A Technomic report found that 59% of consumers report eating meatless meals at least once a week, and 33% are actively trying to reduce their meat consumption.
While shipments of plant-based meat substitutes have increased since the pandemic, the surge actually started in earnest more than a year ago, according to reports from the Good Food Institute, which has tracked offerings made from it every year. plants on the menus of major US restaurant chains in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The increased consumer interest and consideration for plant-based foods has resulted in positive upward trends in the market. The plant-based meat industry is expected to reach over $ 35 billion in 2027, up from $ 11 billion in 2019. Innovative alternative protein companies, which include meat, eggs and dairy products plants, along with fermentation and other methods, raised $ 3.1 billion in funding in 2020 – more than any other year in the industry’s history.
More and more food companies – from small, up-to-date companies to established brands – are looking for ways to join the sustainable food movement. Conversely, restaurants hesitant to offer plant-based options are falling behind a popular food trend and a major market opportunity.
Which restaurants offer plant-based menu options?
Plant-based foods have hit your local restaurant and offer a wide array of options that extend beyond a meatless Monday to tasty, nutritious, and planet-healthy selections.
- The Impossible Whopper, which uses the Impossible Burger, is now a Burger King staple.
- The Cheesecake Factory has several plant-based options including a vegan Cobb salad, Korean fried cauliflower, pomodoro pasta, spinach and mushroom flatbread, lasagna, French country salad and their version of the Impossible Burger.
- Del Taco’s menu offers a comprehensive list of Beyond Meat options such as burritos, tacos, bowls, and even a crispy tostada. Their Epic Beyond Fresh Guacamole Burrito is completely vegan and has 44 grams of protein. They also have more traditional vegetarian options and Crunchtada Tostada.
- Dunkin ‘has a vegetarian Southwest Veggie Power Breakfast sandwich on its menu – a MorningStar Farms black bean patty topped with an egg white omelet and topped with aged white cheddar cheese on a thin multigrain layer. Dunkin ‘was one of the early advocates of plant-based milks, which means almost any of their drinks can be made with oat, almond or coconut milk.
- Fancy some vegetable pepperoni? Head to Little Caesars.
- Panda Express has plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, including Eggplant Tofu, Vegetarian Spring Rolls, Super Greens (broccoli, kale, cabbage), and Chow Mein. They fly Beyond Meat Orange “Chicken” in some places in New York and SoCal.
- Baja de Panera Bowl, Mediterranean Grain Bowl, Cucumber Salad with Basil and Tomato, Ten Vegetable Soup, Greek Salad, and Strawberry Poppy Salad are all vegetarian options that can be changed to be vegan.
- Red Robin offers 2 vegan hamburger patties: a homemade vegetarian patty made from quinoa and ancient grains and the Impossible Burger.
- Peet’s Coffee sells a vegan Just Egg breakfast sandwich made with mung beans.
- TGI Fridays claims vegetarian fame is their Loaded Beyond Burger, which is grilled and topped with white cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles and Friday sauce.
- Wendy’s offers a spicy black bean burger with tomatoes, onion slices, romaine lettuce, chipotle jalapeños, pepper jack cheese and a spicy chipotle sauce.
- Seafood chain Long John Silver tested plant-based crab cakes and fish fillets at 5 locations in California and Georgia this summer.
- Starbucks offers many herbal options. Their Impossible Breakfast Sandwich subs for traditional sausage, eggs and cheese. Vegetarian protein boxes include fruit and cheese, chickpea bites with avocado, eggs and gouda, as well as peanut butter and jelly. Their beverage selection allows you to choose from a variety of plant-based milks and an extensive menu of naturally dairy-free drinks, including refreshments and lemonades.
Final thoughts on plant-based foods and restaurants
By reducing the amount of meat we eat and striving for more sustainable diets, we can each help reduce damage to the environment. Sustainable nutrition is about choosing foods that are healthy for our environment and our body. Several reports and studies, such as the special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on climate change and land, recommend reducing meat consumption.
FAO and WHO describe several notable characteristics that contribute to sustainable diets:
- Eat plenty of whole grains, legumes, nuts, and an abundance and variety of fruits and vegetables
- Allow moderate amounts of eggs, dairy, poultry and fish, and small amounts of red meat
- Reject foods that use antibiotics and hormones in food production
- Favor reusable products over plastics and derivatives in food packaging
- Start adopting ways to avoid food loss and waste
Companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods made a wide variety of familiar-looking items available, and diners responded positively. Beyond Meat’s plant-based foods contain proteins, fats, minerals, flavors and colors and carbohydrates from plant sources like peas, beans, potatoes and brown rice. Impossible Foods plant-based meat is on the menus of renowned chains and local specialties, including steamed buns from Little Bao, quesadillas from Dos Toros, pizza from Veganos Kitchen and picadillo sloppy joes from Millie’s Cuban Cafe.
Hats off to @MeatlessMonday for their extensive research on plant-based restaurants and menu choices.
Images provided by Impossible Foods and Starbucks
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