Eating a healthy diet has never been more important. I hope this article I wrote helps restaurant owners to provide this service to all their customers without causing them more stress.  You see the original article posted in Modern Restaurant Magazine here.

In the restaurant industry, trends come and go. It is important for small businesses to keep up with trends, but also to decide whether it is a valuable addition or an expensive mistake.

It’s obvious the demand for plant-based food is a growing trend. Grubhub released its annual “Year In Food” report, highlighting the top trends of 2019 and found that vegan and vegetarian orders rose by 27 percent in popularity overall in 2019 as compared to 2018.

Vegan and vegetarian dishes took over seven of the top ten most ordered dishes on Grubhub, up from three of the top spots in 2018. And cauliflower pizza claimed the top spot, rising by 650 percent throughout the year.

Grubhub has 21 million diners using its platform. So what does this mean for your restaurant?

While it makes sense not to leave money on the table, it can be overwhelming, to have to come up with a whole new menu in an attempt to increase revenue and take advantage of this trend.

Before you start ordering tons of cauliflowers from your wholesaler, here are some easy tips to help your restaurant move with the times without having to spend a lot of valuable time and money doing so.

1. Review
What do you already offer that is plant-based? (That means the dish contains no dairy, egg and no meat or fish).

Review your menu carefully and add a symbol that denotes all your plant-based/vegan dishes already available. You might be surprised how many plant-based dishes are already on the menu. They are often hidden as side dishes.

2. Customize
Be clear on what you are willing to customize. Adding notes about ingredients such as cheese (dairy) that can be easily omitted or substituted for a plant-based ingredient to create a vegan dish is especially helpful for anyone with an allergy or health issue. It’s an easy fix that makes a customer feel special.

3. Authenticity
Remain true to your concept. Don’t add a random veggie burger if burgers are not a part of your menu already. Choose a traditional, authentic dish that is known as a plant-based dish within the culinary traditions your restaurant represents.

Plant-based foods are globally recognized in every culture. Find one and add it to your menu with the story of how this dish came to be historically, or where the dish is from to inform diners. It can easily be a “signature” dish that your restaurant.

4. Seasonality
Each season brings fresh flavors and ingredients. Pick one vegetable that is in season and use as a main ingredient for your menu. This can become a “festival or celebration” type event, or a part of your “Special of the Day” menu. It is in season; therefore it is plentiful and low priced so make the most of it.

5. Sustainability
Plant-based is associated with sustainability and the bigger picture of being more environmentally responsible. Let your customers know what your business is doing to help local and global communities from recycling and composting to locally sourcing ingredients to supporting local food pantries. And if you have not given this much thought. Now is the time, as this trend is not going away anytime soon.

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