How to promote vegan food in local restaurants?

With plant-based food businesses, festivals, and pop-ups booming, it’s clear that veganism is becoming a global phenomenon. Over the last five years, people have started to make more informed food choices, driven by a growing awareness of the impacts of animal agriculture on climate change, health, and animal welfare. Not surprisingly, food chains are rising up to meet this demand: Wagamama has a new vegan menu, Pizza Hut, Pizza Express, and Zizzi all offer vegan pizzas, and Guinness recently changed its traditional non-vegan brewing process.

Victoria Greene

Photo by Waz Wu.

Veganism is becoming all the craze, with vegan restaurants, festivals and potlucks popping up everywhere. Well, almost everywhere. If it continues to be difficult in your area to find vegan food, here are some tips in being an advocate for more vegan options in restaurants in your neighbourhood:

1. Have the talk.

Whether it is the first or the trillionth time you are visiting a restaurant, it is always good to get the vegan word out there. Simply asking your waiter "Hi there, we are looking for some vegan options. Can you help us out?", will quickly get you and oversight of what is vegan or what can be 'veganized' on the menu. More often than not, you will have to precise what exactly vegan is ("no, no milk and eggs either"), but we will be catered to your needs.

2. Compliment them.

Either online or while you are leaving, please thank any restaurant that went out of their way to serve you vegan food. Be a constructive critic: tell them what you liked and didn't like, and what you would like to see in the future. Chefs don't often have the education or the imagination to come up with a vegan dish but with a little push you can show them a world of new possibilities. When a dish is prepared with cream for example, I like to suggest they serve it with coconut milk instead.

3. Come in mass.

When organising a get-together with friends, family or fellow vegans, call up a restaurant and ask them whether they are able to adjust their dishes to vegans. Go over the menu with them: we could do a lentil stew or a crispy tofu Ceasar Salad if those are options that are already on the menu, simply showing them that with a few little swaps they can make their traditional dish vegan! This is also the time you get in direct contact with a chef or manager to make sure they know there's a demand.

4. Ask them to add permanent options.

Once restaurant owners get an idea of how easy, delicious and profitable it can be to serve vegan food, it won't take much to get them to add it to the menu permanently.

While it might be easier for vegans to spot the option, we always recommend to restaurants to keep the distinction subtle. Instead of adding a separate section with a big green V, we suggest they simply sell it as a delicious vegetable dish with a small marking or some kind of indication that it's vegan. This might be a little inconvenient for hungry vegans, it will encourage more people to try the dish and them unknowingly eating a vegan dish.

More insight on this at The Vegan Strategist.

5. Get in contact with us.

You think a restaurant might be interested in adding vegan options or hosting a vegan event? Don't hesitate to put them in contact with us. We will gladly show them the way to vegan cuisine and put their business in touch with new customers looking for a vegan offer. We've hosted several successful vegan pop-ups and have motivated many restaurants to serve more vegan options.

Check out our guide for chefs here in English and here in French.


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