While you might not have any interest in making radical changes, if you’re in the restaurant industry, making an effort to have an array of health-conscious, vegan, and vegetarian options can give you a publicity boost, as well as attracting and retain new customers. Special dietary needs are becoming more and more common as society grows more health aware, so it’s smart to keep up with the health food wave and maybe even cut back the meat on your menu.
Plant-based ingredients cost less than their alternative, freeze better, and store longer, so buying wholesale bulk goods can be perfect for pinching pennies. Meat takes up about the same amount of storage, or more, depending on the scale, and when composted, meat can attract pests, bugs, and bacteria. Plant compost from customer leftovers or stems and leaves makes great fertilizer for your own potted plants, a nearby community garden, or farm. You may even be able to organize a trade that cuts even more costs and supports your local community, which can only be good for your business in the long run.
As it is estimated that it takes 850 gallons of water to produce 8oz of beef, you can imagine how much a commercial kitchen water footprint must be. Even if you’re not environmentally motivated, using less water during the day to day operations even can only positively affect your utility bill.
Successful foodservice companies like GrubHub and JustEat show a dramatic increase in ‘healthy food orders’ in just the last year, and the demand is predicted by experts to keep growing. If you start adding these options to your menu now, you’ll be ahead of the game by the time your competition catches on in the coming years.
Cooking plant based meals don’t take as much time to prepare as meat, which often needs to be cooked to order in a specific way and at exact temperatures to be consumed safely. Shorter cook times are just part of the efficiency boost - dishes without grease residue caused by animal fats are more difficult to clean, and therefore take more time (and water). It’s also less to clean up in the grease traps! In a fast-paced environment like a busy commercial kitchen, every minute counts.
An added bonus to offering plant-based, vegan, and vegetarian options is that the audience for said meal choice is, by design, already very likely to do their own food research. These are often people that think about their food a lot, search for the options nearby carefully, and look over menus before they arrive. The health conscious can suddenly eat comfortably at your restaurant. They can find multiple options rather than just settling for that one salad the kitchen can make without shredded cheese. Because there aren’t specialty food services in every city just yet, those with dietary preferences are likely to share, review, and promote your restaurant or bar just because you took the effort to give them a stress-free place to eat. For those customers, your restaurant will speak for itself.
At the end of the day, what’s good for your customers is good for you and your business. Food trends seem to suggest that health is only going to get more important to consumers, so your best bet is to broaden the spectrum of your potential patrons by diversifying your menu accordingly.