With the rise in education and awareness of the health benefits of a plant-strong diet, it’s clear that consumer preferences are changing. And nowhere is this more clear than on restaurant menus, where vegetarian options are taking center stage.
According to a new report by Mintel Menu Insights, vegetarian menus have grown 66 percent from 2012 to now, and 61 percent of consumers say they enjoy items that “heavily feature vegetables.”
“America may be known as a ‘meat and potatoes’ kind of country but data suggests that consumers are increasingly reducing the size of the meat and adding Brussels sprouts to the plate,” Mintel foodservice analyst Caleb Bryant tells Latest Vegan News. “According to Mintel, 61% of consumers who have been to a restaurant in the past three months agree with the statement ‘I enjoy menu items that heavily feature vegetables.’ This sentiment is even higher among 25-34 year olds with 75% agreeing with the statement.”
In addition, Bryant adds that there was a 6% increase in menu descriptions of how veggies are prepared “meaning that chefs are using vegetables in new and interesting ways such as firing them for new flavor profiles.”
The data also shows that almost half of eaters (48 percent) look for health claims on menus before ordering.
As evidence of the trend, Bryant cites the openings of “vegetable specific” restaurants including by CHLOE in NYC, Beefsteak in Washington, DC, and Sweetgreen. Given that fast food menus are also reflecting this chain (Taco Bell most notably), it’s clear that the move towards more veg options has extended into every demographic.
Mintel’s report also suggests that restaurants could benefit financially by introducing more veg-heavy dishes, “as restaurant goers aren’t just accepting vegetables, but are embracing them in their diet. Additionally, incorporating local and seasonal vegetables satisfies the consumer desire for both locally sourced goods and menus that change with the seasons.”
Hear that, major chains?
You can read excerpts from Mintel’s reports or purchase copies online.