There are more than half a million vegans eating among us in Britain according to The Vegan Society.
Numbers have trebled from the 150,000 estimated in 2006, making this a growing market in the UK.
The Vegan Society describes veganism as “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
No fish. No meat. No dairy, eggs or honey. It may sound like a bland diet to carnivores, but with veganism on the rise, you would be foolish to miss out on this growing niche.
Elena Orde, spokesperson for The Vegan Society said: “Veganism has grown hugely in the past few years, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Companies who have begun to cater for vegans have seen huge returns.
“For example, the Sainsbury’s range of vegan cheese has exceeded sales predictions by 300%, and Zizzi has reported an increase of 150% in the sales of its vegan dishes.”
Vegetarian options are a no-brainer for most restaurant menus, with even steak houses serving up some meat-free choices. But going vegan can take a bit of extra work in the kitchen and it can be hard to know where to start.
Making something vegan doesn’t have to mean taking ingredients out, but instead switching them for vegan friendly alternatives.
Elena continued: “A good first step is to start stocking plant milk and vegan margarine, and then reviewing the existing menu to see which products could be made vegan.”
Some other vegan alternatives can include using other forms of sweetener instead of honey, or using cooking oils in cakes instead of egg.
If you already have some vegetarian options on your menu then the chances are, they might be suitable for vegans as well (if they contain no products of animal origin – Elena urges you to make your staff aware of this).
Salads, pasta dishes and sweet potato different ways are perfect for your vegan audience, but are also something anybody can enjoy.
You don’t have to create a whole new menu, but adding a new vegan section to the menu like Olive Tree Brasserie have done will go down well with new customers.
Elena said: “A couple of tasty, clearly-labelled vegan options on a menu will go a long way. Don’t make the mistake of confusing vegan food with healthy eating – vegans love burgers and cake as much as the next person!”
The Vegan Society has many recipes for businesses looking for inspiration, including contact details for representatives of the society near you. They offer advice on how to cater for those who are vegan but also have dietary needs.