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What ‘counts’ as a vegan-friendly restaurant?

The numbers vary, but there are, at the very least, hundreds of thousands of vegans in the UK today. Vegan and vegetarian restaurants are becoming more popular and, generally, eateries up and down the country are providing more plant-based options for their customers. It’s a global trend, with a 2018 Foodable Labs study showing that more than half of chefs in the US put vegan items on their menu in the last year.

Who’s going vegan-friendly?

Popular brands are jumping on the vegan-friendly bandwagon. Wagamama is a leading example. Their recent marketing efforts highlighting their vegan menu demonstrate that they don’t just tolerate different dietary preferences or needs – they celebrate them!

So, if you want to become a vegan-friendly restaurant, here are the six things that ‘count’:

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You have dedicated meals for vegans

No, chips don’t count. No, a side-salad without the dressing also doesn’t count. To be vegan-friendly, you need to have real, tasty options for vegansto enjoy. And, maybe even a dessert choice – brownies are a good shout.

You put effort into reaching vegan customers

You don’t have to be a vegan restaurant to put vegan customers at the heart of a marketing campaign or two. Think about it: people are looking for places to eat out as a family or friend-group. They’ll be looking for a local place that welcomes everyone without there being a big fuss about it.

You make the little changes that count

If you’re just starting out on your journey, take a step back. Maybe you don’t need to change up your whole menu. Maybe swap the margarine for a vegan-friendly spread. Or, tweak a couple of your sauces. Or, use vegetable oil instead of beef dripping in your fryers. Or have soymilk to hand.

There are lots of little, low-effort changes you could make that would make both vegans and vegetarians very happy indeed.

You pay attention to your sourcing

Not all vegans are the same. Yes, there’s a vegan certification standard that draws the party line between vegan and not vegan. But, your suppliers could be growing beautiful organic fruit and veg that many plant-based eaters would be happy to enjoy, even if egg shells were popped under the tomatoes to help them grow. Which brings us onto our next point…

You label your menu clearly

People in the vegan community today are still having debates over things like honey vs. agave and certain other products. Many would consider themselves as following a plant-based diet even if they do occasionally eat something not ‘strictly’ vegan.

Restaurants can provide the options to give people the space to make their own, educated, decisions. Just label things clearly!

Take for example the menu at this café. They give details on ingredients, so people know what they’re opting in for, and label things with ‘vegan’ (V) and ‘vegan option available’ (VO) to take the guesswork out of the decision:

Vegan friendly restaurant - imange of a menu

You consider your décor and packaging choices

A vegan-friendly restaurant is not all about the food. The packaging you use and the décor have a part to play. At Pikt, we advocate for plastic-free packaging, because it’s better for our planet. And, we’d suggest that if you are considering leather seats at your establishment, maybe go for a natural fabric alternative instead. We’re just saying, it’s probably cheaper…

And, for the folks at home, have you tried cooking vegan-friendly meals for your family? Choose organic fruit and veg and try out this fantastic paella recipe from Lazy Cat Kitchen. Enjoy!

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