Vegetarian cuisine is moving mainstream - there’s no denying that Meatless Mondays were only the beginning. Going one step further to a vegan diet – no meat, poultry or fish as well as no eggs, dairy foods and other animal-derived products such as honey – is gaining momentum as well, driven by health, animal welfare and environmental concerns.
This lifestyle trend is not only growing, but doing so globally. For example, 2.5% of Americans, 2% of Britains and nearly half a percent of Dutch identify themselves as vegan.
But what are they buying when they leave the house and what does it mean for those restaurants that want to serve them? A national telephone poll of 2,030 respondents, including vegans, vegetarians and those interested in vegetarian meals, was commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) and Harris Interactive to answer this question.
- 77% of vegans and 70% of vegetarians said they would buy a vegetarian dish containing leafy greens such as broccoli, kale, or collards
- 80% of vegans and 61% of vegetarians said they would buy a vegetarian dish containing whole foods such as lentils, chickpeas, or rice
- 53% of vegans and 58% of vegetarians said they would buy a veggie burger cooked on the same grill where meat is cooked, if the grill is cleaned first
- 54% of vegans and 54% of vegetarians said they would buy a vegetarian/vegan deli slice sandwich in Subway
- 25% of vegans and 40% of vegetarians said they would buy their favorite dessert containing sugar, if the source of sugar isn’t specified
- 3% of vegans and 26% of vegetarians said they would buy their favorite dessert containing sugar whitened through a bone char filter, if bone char is not in the sugar
- 2% of vegans and 5% of vegetarians said they would buy a meat alternative grown from animal cell DNA obtained ten years ago, which does not currently involve the raising of animals
With the rise in popularity of vegetable dishes even among non-vegetarians, a stronger focus on these menu items should be taken into consideration.
While the majority of vegans and vegetarians are clearly looking to eat healthier, they aren’t always looking for a meat substitute. Clearly, it will also take a great deal of effort to convince consumers to buy meat grown in a lab setting. A plant-based meat substitute may stand a better chance of acceptance.