If you’re a restaurant owner, we’re sure you agree that the number one gray area in foodservice is knowing what your customer wants at all times. People change, their tastes evolve and trends surface faster than you can fry an egg. With all the food trends circulating today, how do you know which ones are menu-worthy and which aren’t? How do you know which trends have staying power and which ones will be a waste of money? Two words my friend: your diner. And the diner has spoken loudly about how important it is that they have the ability to now live a plant-based lifestyle, no matter where they go. For this reason, plant-based demand has increased, but what does that mean for you and your menu? Without further adieu, here are the reasons behind these animal-friendly lifestyles and everything else that you need to know to build a trending, relevant menu.
But First, Why is Everyone Adopting a Plant-Based Lifestyle?
This trend has been gaining momentum and has its roots in several areas of society. While some people decide to go plant-based due to their health, others choose to subscribe to a plant-based lifestyle due to personal conviction regarding the treatment of animals and/or the environment.
Amongst the Holistic community and in many parts of medicine, it has been long-understood that the consumption of animal products has a direct effect on the body’s inflammatory response. When animal protein is consumed, it begins a chain reaction that increases inflammation within the body. Chronic inflammation is the foundation to each and every disease. The inflammatory process begins as a response to injury. It signals the body that something is in need of healing. When inflammation sits in an area of the body too long (chronic inflammation) it becomes erosive. Consuming animal-based products can increase inflammation in the colon, causing a number of digestive concerns. And because 80% of the immune system is housed within the colon, chronic inflammation in this area has a strong impact on auto-immune diseases. For this reason, many people opt to go plant-based to reduce the impact of inflammation on the digestive system and their immune health.
You may have heard this stat thrown around in other articles, but cattle farming is the number one contributor of methane gas. Methane gasses impact our ozone and increase our potential for global warming and other harmful effects on our environment. Reducing the carbon footprint has been a collective effort amongst Americans for the last 10 years. The consumption of plant-based products supports the environmental efforts to improve our planet.
Last, but certainly not least, the poor treatment of animals has a significant role in why many are opting to go plant-based. Due to the demand for meats, animals that have long been protein sources are suffering a low quality of life. It has been no secret that farms have been over-crowded, the slaughter of these animals has been quickened to a pace that does not ensure the well-being of the animal or the person consuming the animal protein. In the documentary, “What the Health” streaming on Netflix, research into the meat processing reveals that the time to process a cow from live to slaughtered, as well as inspect the meat, is mere minutes.
Plant-Based Lifestyle Basics
As a result of these factors, the uptick in plant-based lifestyle subscription has increased substantially, and will likely continue to do so. In response to this increased demand, the NY Times encourages restaurants to embrace the adoption of plant-based foods for their own benefit and the benefit of their dining guests. But what are the basics of plant-based eating? How do you meet the demand? What should you know?
Hailed as the ultimate animal-free dietary lifestyle, veganism’s definition is beginning to go far beyond food. The Vegan lifestyle has gained a lot of popularity in the last decade, however, the diet has been around since 1944. Yep, over 70 years! The term “Vegan” was first created by Donald Watson, an animal rights advocate who is also the founder of the Vegan Society. Although one could “eat vegan”, true Veganism involves avoiding not only foods but also products that are animal-based. This includes but isn’t limited to: food, personal care items and clothing.
Because a vegan diet is difficult to subscribe to due to the avoidance of all animal-based products, many people ascribe to somewhat of a hybrid. This is where the term plant-based comes in.
A person who subscribes to a plant-based lifestyle consumes a diet that avoids animal products but may include a few exceptions. Because “Vegan” has begun to describe a lifestyle that is completely animal free, not only in diet but in lifestyle, the term “plant-based” offers a hybrid description. A person who follows a plant-based lifestyle will avoid animal products in their diet for the most part, but may still consume things like honey and may wear clothes that are derived from animals.
A little more well-known that the Vegan terminology, “Vegetarian” living has a variety of options under their umbrella. It is highly likely that by now you have known a vegetarian or have dabbled in the lifestyle yourself. But as mentioned previously, the lifestyle has some variations. These variations are important to know when it comes to creating dishes that will meet the demand of your dining guests.
Lacto Vegetarian- this variation of vegetarian is one that avoids animal products such as meat and eggs, however still consumes dairy.
Ovo-Vegetarian- this variation of vegetarian is one that avoids the consumption of animal products but does consume eggs as a source of protein.
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian- this variation is a combination of the previously mentioned types. This type of vegetarian consumes plant based products with the addition of dairy and eggs to their regular diet. This is the most common type of plant-based diet that is in circulation today.
So there you have it, you are now empowered with the plant-based basics. Want to know more about what to serve and how to appeal to your dining audience with products that appeal to their new animal-friendly lifestyles? Check out our latest suggestions.