Vegan! Will you join la junk food revolution?
Forget clean living. This is indulgent, greasy, spicy, saucy, deep-fried living.
Vegan junk food has landed. And it’s delicious.
At the turn of a new year, you cannot turn a page in a newspaper or magazine without someone somewhere talking about Veganuary. Interestingly though it appears this trend for ditching everything from meat to cheese and eggs to fish is not going away anytime soon. But the new rising stars are not quinoa salads or superfood buddha bowls. Instead, there is a vast appetite for plant-based fast food that tastes dirty (in a good way), yet doesn’t jeopardise the personal ethics of the consumer. There are many reasons why your guests are wanting to take up a vegan way of life. The main three reasons for the shift in eating habits are animal welfare, environmental concerns and personal health. From the documentaries on Netflix to the drop-dead gorgeous models on Instagram, they are convincing the world that the only way is vegan, and it seems the “trend” has become a revolution.
The force of the movement’s spending power in the UK is undeniable, as it is not only full-time vegans who are enjoying plant-based options on the menu. Many meat-eaters are dipping their toes in the water to try something new, something different and adventurous. The undeniable truth is that vegan or plant-based diets are no longer niches, and the appeal of vegan options is no longer exclusively for vegans. There are of course “Flexitarians” who largely follow a vegan or vegetarian diet most of the time, but on occasion may enjoy an egg and bacon sandwich. Or those who follow a five-day vegan lifestyle from Monday to Friday, and others are just more conscious of wanting to opt-out of meat during some mealtimes. More and more people are starting to question the ethics, morals, global and personal health impact that their diet choices create. Rather than losing customers to this mindset, today it’s vital for us and our businesses to do an amazing job at serving (and impressing) them.
With the mainstream powerhouses of M&S, Pizza Express, Pret a Manger and Wagamama all offering multiple vegan options, the impact of the vegan revolution is undeniable. The typical vegan is no longer a hairy sock and sandal-wearing hippy. A new wave of people from all walks of life is opting to put their money where their ethical and health stance is. There has also been a rise in stand-alone vegan fast food joints, with rising stars Biff’s Jack Shack, The Vurger Co and Moving Mountains showing that the vegan movement is no longer about bowls of endless quinoa and salad leaves. The real tour de force for vegans is the junk food revolution where burgers bleed (with beetroot juice – obviously), where everything has flavour, and the dishes are stunningly Instagramable. The humble vegetables, spices, legumes, nuts and seeds are revolutionising the eating habits of a new dining generation. Vegan shakes and desserts have also set tongues wagging and tills ringing, with options such as ice cream, cakes and fondants now achieving vegan status. Forget clean living. This is indulgent, greasy, spicy, saucy, deep-fried living, and it’s delicious. As restaurants, we need to do more to make plant-based enthusiasts feel included and encouraged to come in and try, and hopefully feel inspired to return for something else on the menu.
- Keep your eyes open
Take a scroll through Twitter’s popular #veganhour from 7pm-8pm every Tuesday and check out what is on offer from the famous bloggers, big restaurant players and local eateries near you. From images to recipes, there is often plenty to see. Be curious about what can be done and start to get inspired at just how amazing vegan options can look.
- Get out and try
This is the fun bit. There’s no need to become a vegan if it’s not your bag, but getting out and trying what is out there is essential. If you have vegan friends get them to take you to their favourite eating hot spots. Or reach out to a Vegan blogger in your area and work towards collaborating on something special.
- Bring in an expert
If the creative (beetroot) juices are not flowing, it’s ok to admit you might need a little help in this department. Bring in a vegan chef to create some magic for your menu. Professional vegan chefs are on the rise too. They consult with venues of all sizes to create something that connects with the existing menu and is far more exciting than the Quorn burgers that are currently in the freezer. An expert will be able to advise on some simple quick fixes, like stocking organic almond milk as well as soy, to give your vegan consumers more choice and an overall better experience.
- Create something extraordinary
From kebabs to fish and chips, dirty burgers to vindaloos…vegans want it all minus the meat or fish or animal by-products. What works on your menu for your carnivorous friends, could with a little clever kitchen wizardry (and a lot of tinned jackfruits) also work well as a vegan option. Create something you’re excited about and proud to serve, and get behind the vegan junk food revolution. Your guests may just join you and bring their vegan friends along too.