With climate change and sustainability issues becoming more urgent, many experts advise us to try to limit our meat consumption. Plant-based foods are therefore increasingly common on restaurant menus. The trend towards plant-based menu items started with a veggie burger, but now plant-based options are becoming available in all sorts of categories.
Herbal entrees are making headlines and sharing on social media. Managers report that plant-based menu items are attracting new customers. Restaurants are taking advantage of this buzz by piloting exciting new menu items that are high in protein and plant-based. The latest announcements reflect emerging trends in the restaurant world, from takeout and casual dining to fine dining establishments.
Offering plant-based menu items helps restaurants cater to a wide range of customers. Plant-based entrees can differentiate a restaurant from its competitor by generating interest in a restaurant’s menu, instilling innovation and creativity, and aligning a brand with customer values around health and safety. environmental sustainability. Indeed, rich plant-based foods like legumes and grains offer restaurants several benefits, including lower costs, longer shelf life than animal products, and lower price volatility.
A recent Gallup study found that 41% of people in the US have tried plant-based meats – and of those surveyed, 60% said they were likely to continue eating them. A Technomic report found that 59% of consumers say they eat meatless meals at least once a week, and 33% are actively trying to reduce their meat intake.
While shipments of plant-based meat alternatives have increased since the pandemic, the uptick actually started in earnest more than a year ago, according to reports from the Good Food Institute, which annually tracks plant-based offerings. plants on the menus of major American restaurant chains in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Increased consumer interest and consideration for plant-based foods has led to positive upward trends in the market. The plant-based meat industry is estimated to grow to more than $35 billion in 2027, up from $11 billion in 2019. Innovative alternative protein companies, which include meat, eggs, and dairy d plant-based, along with fermentation and other methods, raised $3.1. billion dollars in funding in 2020 – more than any other year in industry history.
More and more food companies – from small start-ups to established brands – are looking for ways to join the sustainable food movement. Conversely, restaurants that are 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 range of options that extend beyond 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 offers several plant-based options, including Vegan Cobb Salad, Korean Fried Cauliflower, Pomodoro Pasta, Avocado Toast, Spinach and Mushroom Flatbread, Lasagna, Salad French countryside and their version of the Impossible Burger.
- Del Taco’s menu features an extensive 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 contains 44 grams of protein. They also have more traditional vegetarian and Crunchtada Tostada.
- Dunkin’ has a Southwest Veggie Power vegetarian breakfast sandwich on its menu — a MorningStar Farms black bean patty layered with a loaded egg white omelet and topped with aged white cheddar cheese on a multigrain thin. Dunkin’ was an early advocate of plant-based milks, which means almost all of their drinks can be made with oat, almond or coconut milk.
- Want vegetable pepperoni? Head to Little Caesars.
- Panda Express has many vegetarian and vegan options, including Eggplant Tofu, Veggie Spring Rolls, Super Greens (Broccoli, Kale, Cabbage) and Chow Mein. They’re piloting Beyond Meat Orange “Chicken” in select New York and SoCal locations.
- Panera’s Baja Bowl, Mediterranean Cereal Bowl, Tomato Basil Cucumber Salad, Ten Vegetable Soup, Greek Salad, and Strawberry Poppyseed Salad are all vegetarian options that can be modified to be vegan.
- Red Robin offers 2 vegan burger patties: a homemade vegetarian patty made with quinoa and ancient grains and the Impossible Burger.
- Peet’s Coffee sells a mung bean-based Just Egg vegan breakfast sandwich.
- TGI Fridays lays claim to vegetarian fame for its Loaded Beyond Burger, which is grilled and topped with white cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles and Friday’s gravy.
- Wendy’s offers a spicy black bean burger topped with tomatoes, sliced onions, romaine lettuce, chipotle jalapeños, pepper jack cheese and spicy chipotle sauce.
- This summer, seafood chain Long John Silver tested plant-based crab cakes and fish fillets at 5 locations in California and Georgia.
- Starbucks offers many plant-based options. Their Impossible Breakfast Sandwich subs for traditional sausage, eggs and cheese. Vegetarian protein boxes include fruit and cheese, chickpea bites with avocado, egg and gouda cheese, and peanut butter and jelly. Their beverage selection lets you choose from a variety of plant-based milks and an extensive menu of naturally dairy-free beverages, including soft drinks and lemonades.
Final Thoughts on Plant-Based Foods and Restaurants
By reducing the amount of meat we eat and working towards a more sustainable diet, each of us can help reduce the damage to the environment. Sustainable food is about choosing foods that are healthy for our environment and our bodies. Several reports and studies, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on climate change and land, recommend reducing meat consumption.
The FAO and WHO describe several notable features that contribute to sustainable diets:
- Eat plenty of whole grains, legumes, nuts, and plenty and variety of fruits and vegetables
- Allow moderate amounts of eggs, dairy products, poultry and fish, and small amounts of red meat
- Reject foods that use antibiotics and hormones in food production
- Prioritize reusables 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 protein, fats, minerals, flavors and colors, as well as carbohydrates from plant sources like peas, beans, potatoes and brown rice. Impossible Foods’ plant-based meat is on the menu of big-name chains and local dishes, including steamed buns from Little Bao, quesadillas from Dos Toros, pizza from Veganos Kitchen and sloppy joes picadillo from Millie’s Cuban Cafe.
Hats off to @MeatlessMonday for their extensive research into plant-based restaurants and menu choices.
Images courtesy of Impossible Foods and Starbucks
Do you appreciate the originality of CleanTechnica? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador – or a patron on Patreon.