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Being vegan has gone from a niche lifestyle choice to wide popularity in recent years. With an increased awareness of animal slaughter processes, and media coverage on the health benefits of a diet that's free of any animal products, the choice to go vegan has started to appeal to more and more people.
But for the professional chef, a vegan menu has traditionally been seen as both challenging and financially questionable.
So, what are the benefits and challenges of creating an entirely vegan menu? We decided to investigate.
The vegan community is vocal
With its roots coming from a tightly knit subculture, vegans tend to be very good at spreading the word about the food establishments that are doing things well. Alastair Choat, owner of leading London vegetarian and vegan pub the Coach & Horses, says that he rarely has to do any promotion.
He says: "The pub tends to promote itself, people will go home and write about the place, and we get articles written about us in magazines. If you do good vegan food, the community will soon hear about it."
Ingredients are plentifull and good value
As vegetables are the core of any vegan menu, your profit margins will be high on the vast majority of dishes. Additionally, seasonal veg can make for interesting choices throughout the year. Likewise, tofu is now widely available and can be bought in many different flavours and textures.
At the Coach & Horses, the financial benefits have been obvious, with Choat stating:
"As a pub or restaurant, vegan food is very inexpensive and you can make a fantastic profit margin on things."
Be mindful of hidden animal products
A key challenge when creating a vegan menu is the need to check every single ingredient for hidden animal-derived products thoroughly
Choat warned of the need for vigilance, saying:
"Kitchens do need to be careful. Remember that vegans don't eat things like honey, mayonnaise, and Worcester sauce, which has anchovies in it. Getting it wrong can lead to distress for the customer, and it can ruin your reputation."
With planning, imagination, and attention to detail, your pub or restaurant could see itself becoming a hotspot for vegan foodies far and wide.
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