According to The Hartman Group’s 2021 Health & Wellness report, nearly half (48%) of consumers are seeking foods and drinks labeled “plant-based.” They are also willing to pay up to 40% more for plant-based options and 75% more for clean label ingredients.
With the new year comes new health-related resolutions. As plant-based dishes become more in-demand and commonplace on menus, diners will expect more restaurants to offer these options. Get in the game early and win consumers over with our tips for plant-based menu options that are unique, packed with flavor, and sustainable.
On the Go
Grab-and-go items are very much in-demand as many people are still opting to dine at home. Consider adding items like a vegan chorizo and black bean burrito, a ready-made acai bowl, or a veggie-packed grain bowl to your menu so that customers can stop in, pick up, and take on a busy weekday. Juices, smoothies, parfaits, and salads travel well too, so having those ready to go is a great opportunity to boost sales. Clean labels are driving the market, so attract patrons’ attention by marking items with health-centric descriptors like gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and sustainably sourced where it applies. Noting if the packaging is recyclable, compostable, or feature any other eco-friendly perks can sway buying decisions, as well.
Replenish & Recharge
Fresh-pressed juices, smoothies, and other beverages that tout health benefits will be super popular this month as people strive to stick to their newly made resolutions. They are a quick and convenient way to get nutrition, and not to mention they’re extremely popular with younger diners. And specialty beverages have some of the highest markups in the industry, so it’s beneficial to you as well. Entice guests to spend a little more by adding a few to your breakfast, brunch, and lunch menus.
Fun and descriptive names like “Immune Booster” or “The Hulk” for a kale-based juice or “Ray of Sunshine” for a fresh fruit smoothie will grab the attention of your customers. Upcharge with small add-ons guests can mix and match for their own customized health drink like chia seeds, hemp seeds, protein powder, turmeric, wheatgrass shots, spirulina powder, and more.
Tea is also going to be a popular health-conscious choice many diners will opt for in the new year over its caffeinated siblings, so don’t scrap it just because pumpkin spice and gingerbread have been getting all the glory. Offer some peppermint, green, or lemon and ginger tea for guests looking for a healthier alternative to coffee in the morning or after dinner. Performance Foodservice’s Guest House® brand offers an assortment of premium and specialty teas for any part of service.
Take to the Sea
Meat alternatives are not only limited to just pork and beef. Veggie burgers and hot dogs have only increased in popularity over the last several years, and now many restaurants have turned to plant-based seafood to continue riding the plant-based wave. Consider crab cakes made from chickpea and zucchini paired with a spicy vegan mayo to make a remoulade. Hearts of palm can also work well here as a sub to make calamari or a fresh and citrusy ceviche to go inside lettuce cups.
Alcohol-free cocktails have been trending for the last year or two. And sober curious diners are becoming more of a movement. Working a few into your trendy cocktail and happy hour menus with fresh herbs, shrubs, drinking vinegars, elixirs, and fresh fruit will entice guests to go for the mocktail, and you can charge the same price. Since it’s winter, add a smoky non-alcoholic punch, blackberry thyme spritzer, or hot cocoa with festive garnishes. Make sure your social media channels are filled with like-worthy images of fun mocktails you offer, and these babies will sell themselves.
Ah, dessert — the portion of the menu where diners tend to indulge themselves the most. However, many want to avoid the extra calories, and it can be one of the first foods people cut in the new year. Here’s where restaurants can work their magic: Vegan/vegetarian was the fastest-growing dessert category over the past three years, up 12%, per Mintel’s 2021 Trending on U.S. Menus: Desserts report.
Help guests ease into their New Year’s resolutions by incorporating some plant-based or vegan dessert options into your menu. A vegan chocolate cake, chia pudding, or brownies or cookies sweetened with sweet potato, agave, or manuka honey all make great options. Oat milk is soaring in popularity over other plant-based milks, so an oat milk-based milkshake might be just the trick needed to power up your dessert game.
Read More: Looking for a clean-ingredient, high-quality brand to bring your plant-based dishes to life? Check out Performance Foodservice’s Green Origin™, an exclusive brand with a portfolio of plant-based proteins in the flavor profiles of beef, pork, and chicken.