What better way to start the year than to start the year with a challenge: Veganuary.
Now this was an interesting idea. I have always been a staunch meat eater. In fact, in my interview for my role at CDG Leisure, I implicitly stated my love of cheeseburgers. Therefore, the key question was, as a Leisure Property Consultant, which operators were going to step up to the ‘plate’ and deliver some astounding vegan food.
According to Faunalytics, which has conducted analysis of Veganuary each year since its birth in 2014, the main challenge that people face during this month, is eating out. Others include; avoiding all non-vegan ingredients and giving up dairy (I concur – milk derivatives are quite possibly in everything delicious). Gone, however, are the days where as a vegan you would simply order a side salad as a main or a plate of chips.
Veganism has become a movement. It is a movement that has dramatically increased over the past couple of years and it is up to operators to take notice.
According to Baum & Whiteman – International food + restaurant consultants ‘Vegetables in 2017 will extend their domination of the dinner plate, shoving animal protein to the edges... or off the plate altogether’(Bauman & Whiteman, 2017). On a wider scale, consumers are consuming less meat and it seems apparent that various large restaurants are realising this. After signing up to the ‘Veganuary’ newsletter, where I receive a motivating and addictive email once a day, I became aware of certain restaurants jumping on board the vegan bandwagon. Some examples included; Zizzi’s, All Bar One, Las Iganaus, Carluccios which have a purely vegan menu. Alternatives to this are other restaurants who are innovatively offering vegan options within their own ‘normal’ menus. Examples include Wedge Pizza, Busaba and Pret a Manger. I have to thank the all of them – as without this, this month would have been a long and lonely one.
During the month of Veganuary, what better time to open a new ‘Vegan Fried Chicken’ shop to appeal to the meat starved masses. Temple of Hackney, originally called Temple of Seitan is thought to be the first restaurant in the world to serve fried chicken without the actual chicken. Various newspapers have reported people ‘forming lines long enough to rival a tube-strike bus queue’. Clearly this is a popular notion – one I thoroughly intend on sampling.
Other actual vegetarian and vegan restaurants, including; Farmacy, The Vegan Hippo and our client Mildred’s have also been doing remarkably well, jumping on board the ‘no reservation’ train to maximise turnover, their popularity highlighting the advancement of Veganism amongst the millennials. Surprisingly, as a predominately wet led and traditionally non vegetarian establishment, the best menu I have seen, has been at All Bar One. The effort, inventiveness and quality of food that they presented was undeniable, in particular the chickpea, kale and jackfruit chutney concoction and the enchanting raspberry sorbet.
Certainly, however, a couple of these restaurants mentioned above have definitely emphasised and over-stated their participation in Veganuary, with a few of meals still unfortunately consisting of a rather large plate of vegetables.
So is Veganism here to stay?
The number of people who are taking part in Veganuary seem to give that indication. A new breed of consumer is apparent with plant based eating showing no signs of stopping (Produce Business UK, 2016). The issue, however, will be whether the restaurants who have offered a vegan menu will continue to cater to this demographic. I believe in order for restaurants to continue to be ‘on trend’, more attention needs to be given to this sector in society.
According to the NPD Group however, people are still expected to be attracted to classics with a healthy twist as they are ‘creatures of habit’. Therefore, veganism could be giving way to either ‘selective veganism’ (occasionally eating dairy and eggs) or ‘flexitarianism’ where consumers occasionally eat meat – more often when they go out. This could mean there is hope for the meat dominated restaurants, with a backlash occurring most notably with the rise of ‘artisan butchers’(Big Hospitality, 2017). It is clear that balance is the way forward in order to appeal to these modern societies who are interested both in indulgence and healthy body and mind.
Leisure Property Consultant
Big Hospitality (2017) Restaurant trends: 7 things we’ll see in 2017. Available at: http://www.bighospitality.co.uk/Trends-Reports/Restaurant-trends-2017
Baum & Whiteman (2017) 13 hottest foods & beverage trends in restaurant & hotel dining for 2017. Available at: http://www.baumwhiteman.com/2017TRENDS.pdf
Timeout (2017) Londons first vegan chicken shop. Available at: http://www.timeout.com/london/blog/londons-first-vegan-chicken-shop-is-now-open-but-theres-a-pretty-long-queue-to-get-in-011617
Produce Business UK (2016). The rise of veganism and plant-based diets signals boost for fresh produce sales. http://www.producebusinessuk.com/purchasing/stories/2016/12/20/the-rise-of-veganism-and-plant-based-diets-signals-boost-for-fresh-produce-sales