Restaurateurs Foresee Bright Future as Fine Dining Turns Vegan

We are witnessing the evolution of fine dining. Astonishingly veganism is a chief enabler of this culinary transformation. Starting out as a whole grain diet for radicals, vegan food culture has evolved into Michelin star worthy mega trend for future chefs and culinary experts.  

Nowadays, vegan food is becoming normal in restaurants and fast food joints. Future Market Insights reports that overall Plant Based Burgers sales revenue will surpass US$ 2.7 Bn at an impressive 22 percent CAGR in 2022. With increasing promotions in restaurant magazines, food blogs, and social media platforms, more people are expected to join this mega-trend.

People are also becoming more aware regarding the positive impact of vegan lifestyle on one’s own health and environment.  With vegan lifestyle becoming the new normal, top restaurateurs are incorporating plant based dishes in their menus. A rise in number of vegan restaurants is witnessed as younger population especially women are preferring vegan diet over traditional fine dining options.

In this blog we shall discuss, what’s the market scope of the vegan restaurant industry, what are the key challenges faced by vegan restaurant owners, and what is their approach to address those issues? 

Being Vegan Isn’t Gastronomical Anymore

Restaurant industry is on the cusp of change. The age old traditions of wine pairing and exotic eating are being replaced by finger and bowl food and shared eating. Surprisingly, restaurants are also replacing all, meat, fish, eggs and dairy with vegan alternatives. They are doing this by re-imagining vegetables and other plant based options. 

Plant-based eating was previously limited to some selected restaurants and casual cafes. However, restaurants have begun experimenting with vegan menus, elevating what was once a niche dietary option into a genuine culinary trend. 

Apart from growing vegetarian and vegan population, ordinary people who eat meat are also paying attention to the relationship between animal products and their health and the health of the planet. This has accelerated the demand for plant based meat and dairy products especially in western hemisphere. 

Now, there's no denying that there's money in this segment. Plant Based Protein accounted for US$ 11.3 Bn in sales in 2021, while Meat Alternative Market experienced a year-on-year growth of 5.2 percent in 2021. Plant-Based Beef sales are forecast to witness exceptional growth at 22.7 percent CAGR between 2022 and 2032, and Plant-Based Milk sales will grow ~ 2x by 2032, says Future Market Insights.

Part of the increase in veganism adoption has undoubtedly been driven by environmental, health, and ethical factors. Of course, people want to do what they believe is right for themselves and the planet. 

Young chefs are experimenting with different vegetables and plant based products to create countless incredible new cuisines and replicate the exact texture and taste of the traditional animal meat. Through this approach, modern restaurants are looking to appeal to consumers who want the texture and consistence of the meat in a vegan dish.

So rise of veganism clearly gives restaurant owners some real opportunities. However, as the industry needs to adapt to new demands, it also needs to overcome serious and unprecedented obstacles to maintain the highest possible standards. 

What Are the Key Challenges Faced by Vegan Restaurateurs?

In 2022, restaurant industry or food industry in general is planning to serve an omnivore population who is trying to cut back animal products from their diet. There are few roadblocks that these vegan restaurant owners must address to achieve success in upcoming years.

  • Limited clean label vegan ingredients in the market

Consumers are becoming more aware of the ingredients in their foods and are beginning to scrutinize ingredients that go in it. In order to provide a truly authentic vegan experience, vegan restaurant owners have to search and weed out a lot of 100 percent vegan claimed ingredients. In currently market scenario, even the top regulatory and certification institutes add “may contain” labels on plant based diary and meat alternatives that are required for preparing a vegan meal. 

Genuine vegan and clean labeled ingredients are scarce and expensive, which ultimately increases the cost of cuisine. This prevents the consumer from entering the vegan restaurant, leading to reduced sales. 

Looming threat of allergic reactions to ingredients present in the vegan claimed product escalates the problem even further. Vegan restaurant owners have no corners to cut, if they are looking to build a loyal customer base and have to go extra mile to guarantee their customers that their menu can be trusted.

  • High cost of organic produce and supply chain problems

In the wake of ongoing pandemic, restaurant owners are facing supply chain problems due to agricultural production and labor shortages, fluctuations in demand, and transportation logistics issues. Vegan restaurants are hit hard as their raw material procurement is very specific and relatively complex. 

Restaurant owners have to bear the overhead cost of food preparation and disposal of leftovers as vegetables and plant based items rot quickly and requires special storage. One of the licensing requirements for a vegan restaurant is installation of premium water purifier system. These systems are expensive and restaurant owner has to bear the cost. 

Because of aforementioned reasons the cost of dining at a vegan restaurant increase which to a certain extent reduces the footfall of customers in the restaurant.

How Vegan Restaurant Owners Are Stepping Up To These Challenges

To capitalize at the developing vegan opportunity in the fine dining industry, restaurant owners are using whole foods instead of clean label vegan ingredients for food preparation. They are becoming extra careful while selecting clean label products whenever necessary to better position themselves in the market and establish themselves as authentic vegan restaurants.

They are also formulating and balancing combination of various in-house ingredients to develop signature taste and eliminate the use of clean label ingredients to a certain extent. Through this approach, they are also able to cater to their customer’s taste while reducing the risk of using too much processed food.

Since organic produce cost more, restaurant owners are becoming innovative and are developing recipes and cooking techniques where optimum utilization of produce takes place. They are focusing on reducing the wastage and extract maximum flavor out of the raw material. 

While the initial investment is more for vegan restaurants, it is profitable in the long run. With growing popularity of veganism among younger people, they are willing to pay extra money to ensure that the food they eat is organic and 100 percent authentic. 

With increasing per capita income and establishment of stringent regulatory framework ensuring the product is delivered as promised, the vegan restaurant owners can expect increase in vegan customers and subsequent sales in upcoming years.

What to Expect in 2022

Going vegan as a way of life is still intimidating and challenging for many mostly due to financial or geographic constraints. Researches indicate further decline in animal product consumption in upcoming years, as consumers are switching to meat only twice a week. 

Technological advancement is filling the market with new vegan meat products and clean label ingredients, while growing number of vegan and vegetarian population will boost the demand for these products.

Vegan restaurant industry has a bright future as fast food giants like McDonalds, KFC, Subway, and Burger King enter the vegan food industry.  The low prices of fast food chains will help attract customers, including those who usually order meat options. 

Most fast food chains have started offering offer vegan alternative to their signature dishes while others are leading by offering novel vegan dishes that aren’t found on their usual menu. 

These factors are expected to create a loop. As more plant-based foods are sought, the market becomes more profitable for restaurants-as a result, they offer more vegan options at lower prices. We can expect vegan restaurants to get cheaper and see more and more vegan dishes popping up on traditional restaurant menus in upcoming years.