Over the last year, a surprisingly high number of restaurants have added plant-based items to their menus. The trend even applies to the fast-food industry, where brands like KFC, White Castle, Burger King, Carl’s Jr., Chipotle, and Qdoba now offer plant-based “meats.”
Today, vegetarian and vegan customers don’t have to choose boring salads when they go out to eat. They have a vast range of options that include burgers, wings, and burritos made from soy or pea protein.
No matter what kind of restaurant you own, you need to put plant-based recipes on your menu. Yes, even a steakhouse can benefit from one or two options designed for customers who want to avoid meat.
If you’re not convinced, below are some recent dietary trends that may change your mind. We also have some plant-based recipes to suggest that may fit into your restaurant’s cuisine.
Fewer People Want Meat-Based Meals
The Economist describes 2019 as “the year of the vegan.” According to the magazine, at least a quarter of Americans between 25 and 34 describe themselves as vegetarians or vegans. Vegetarians and vegans are still in the minority, but their numbers are growing quickly. Restaurants need to take notice.
The amount of meat consumed in the United States has also fallen, according to some metrics. In 1976, American farmers grew a whopping 94.1 pounds of beef for every person. Since then, beef production has slowed considerably. Throughout the 1990s, beef production never exceeded 68 pounds per person. During the 2010s, it never reached 60 pounds per person.
Farmers, who pay close attention to food trends so they can maximize their revenues, have lowered their beef production by nearly 30%.
The amount of pork, which many people see as a healthier alternative to beef, has remained fairly consistent over the last 50 years.
Chicken stands out as an aberration in meat production. The National Chicken Council says that total chicken production has increased from just 28 pounds per capita in 1960 to 94 pounds per capita in 2018.
The reasons behind poultry’s increased popularity, however, may have some things in common with the higher demand for plant-based foods. Anyone looking to consume less saturated fat would choose chicken or vegetables over beef or pork.
Let’s take a look at the reasons behind recent dietary trends to determine why so many people choose plant-based and chicken over beef and pork.
Plant-Based Foods Attract Health-Conscious Customers
An overwhelming amount of evidence shows that plant-based diets aid human health more than diets that include animal products like meat, cheese, and butter.
A 2017 review of scientific literature finds that dietary changes could prevent about one-half of cardio-metabolic deaths in the U.S. Cardio-metabolic disease includes:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
The review even finds that changing to a plant-based diet can reverse the damage caused by cardio-metabolic disease.
Eating meat also has a connection to cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists processed meats (ham, sausage, hot dogs, beef jerky, etc.) as a carcinogen, which means they increase cancer risks. The WHO also considers other forms of meat “likely carcinogens,” and encourages people to eat less processed and red meats.
The WHO draws its conclusion from data showing that meat consumption specifically increases the risk of colorectal cancer. The data also shows a connection between eating meat and stomach cancer, although the researchers didn’t have enough evidence to state this conclusively.
As consumers become more informed about the health effects of consuming meat, many of them start to look for alternatives. They may not become vegetarians or vegans, but they do try to reduce the amount of meat in their diets.
By adding plant-based recipes to your menu, you can attract more health-conscious consumers that want options that help them avoid life-threatening illnesses.
Protect the Environment by Serving More Plant-Based Foods
Climate change has become such a pressing issue in the minds of young people that many of them have developed anxiety disorders over their concerns. Distress caused by environmental changes has become so common that it has earned a name, solastalgia. People around the country have started support groups to share their fears with each other.
Many of today’s young people are doing more than joining groups and seeing therapists, though. They’re taking action by adopting plant-based diets.
Individuals often feel that they don’t have much control over the factors that contribute to climate change. They do, however, have control over what they eat.
Animals products generate 78% of total agricultural greenhouse-has emissions. Cows, for example, burp a lot of methane as their stomachs digest food. The food grown for those cows also damages the environment. A single cow needs about 10 kg (22 pounds) of feed to pack on just 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of body weight. Instead of growing crops for cows, climate-conscious consumers want to focus on growing crops for human consumption.
Finding land to grow food for animals has also become problematic. Many farmers have turned to the Amazon’s fertile land to raise feed and cattle. Preparing the soil requires massive deforestation. Cattle ranches account for about 80% of deforestation in the Amazon rain forest.
The recent fires burning through the Amazon has attracted more attention to this issue. Even famed foodie and chef Eddie Huang says that he has switched to a vegan diet because of the Amazon rain forest fires.
Putting plant-based recipes on your menu gives climate-conscious people a reason to choose your restaurant. You don’t have to create an entirely vegan or vegetarian menu. A few options will satisfy most customers.
4 Plant-Based Recipes to Add to Your Restaurant’s Menu
When everyone from White Castle to Eddie Huang starts thinking about plant-based diets, it’s time to embrace the trend.
You don’t have to reinvent plant-based cuisine to make your customers happy. Just find a few, simple recipes that your cooks can make with the equipment you already own.
If you feel stumped, try adding some of these four plant-based recipes from Betsy’s Best. They never fail to satisfy hungry people who prefer eating plants instead of animal products.
The Original Gourmet PB&J
A gourmet version of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich gives you an extremely easy way to add a plant-based item to your menu. You probably already have some of the ingredients in your kitchen.
To make Betsy’s Best Original PB&J, you’ll need:
- 2 slices of bread
- 2 T of Betsy’s Best Peanut Putter
- 1 T of jam
- 1 T of cacao nibs
- 2 strawberries, sliced
- 1 T of granola
You can make the sandwich even more exciting by choosing an artisan bread made by a local bakery. If possible, prepare your own jams in house. Making your own jam ensures that your PB&J has an original flavor that no one else can replicate.
Homemade Vegetarian Carrot Hot Dog
Regular hot dogs contain a load of nitrates that increase your risks for diseases like high blood pressure and cancer. Health-conscious diners will never order a hot dog, even if you grind your own meat.
Vegan hot dogs made from carrots, however, will attract more healthy eaters and add a novel item to your menu.
Plan ahead to make these hot dogs. You have to let them rest overnight.
For the recipe, you will need:
- 1 T Betsy’s Best Cinnamon Peanut Butter
- 4 carrots
- 4 T vegetable stock
- 3 T soy sauce or tamari
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- 1/2 inch piece of ginger, sliced
- 2 T red or white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp liquid smoke
- 3 tsp brown sugar
The day before you plan to serve the vegan hot dogs:
- Simmer 4 carrots for 8-10 minutes in boiling water.
- Combine all ingredients except the carrots to make a marinade.
- Shock the carrots in an ice bath after 8-10 minutes boiling.
- Place carrots in plastic bag, add the marinade, and let sit overnight.
- After the carrots absorb the marinade overnight, put 1 tsp of oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
- Cook the carrots and sauce in the pan for 10 minutes, drizzling with remaining marinade every few minutes.
- Place carrot hot dog on a bun and serve with condiments like ketchup and mustard!
You can start by making a small batch of carrot hot dogs to see how well they sell at your restaurant. If you get good results, multiply the ingredients to make more hot dogs and keep up with demand.
Gluten-Free Banana Oatmeal Peanut Butter Pancakes
The number of Americans that follow gluten-free diets has tripled since 2009. Your restaurant can satisfy their craving for pancakes without causing stomach distress. Make a batch of gluten-free banana oatmeal peanut butter pancakes, and watch the gluten-free and dairy-free crowds flock to your dining room.
To make this sweet, delicious pancakes, you’ll need:
- 1 very ripe banana
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 T flaxseed meal +2.5 T water, mixed
- pinch of salt
- 1 /2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 T Betsy’s Best Gourmet Peanut, Almond, or Seed Butter
- 1 T coconut oil
- 3 T almond milk
- 1/2 cup rolled oats, ground
- 1/4 gluten-free flour
- 3 T non-dairy semisweet chocolate chips (substitute blueberries for a healthier option)
Once you have gathered all of your ingredients:
- Mix the flaxseed meal and water, and let rest for about 5 minutes.
- Mash your banana into the baking powder.
- Combine flax egg, oil, salt, vanilla extract, Betsy’s Best, and almond milk.
- Stir in oats and gluten-free flour until combined.
- Gently fold in chocolate chips or blueberries,
- Pour 1/4 cup of the mixture onto a lightly greased griddle and cook 2 to 4 minutes each side until golden brown.
- Serve with maple syrup or other choice of condiment.
Expect to get 5 to 6 small pancakes from this recipe.
Quinoa Avocado Salad with Cardamom Cashew Butter
Quinoa and avocado make this a filling salad suitable for lunch or dinner. The dressing gives it a creamy texture without adding any dairy.
To make the quinoa avocado salad with cardamom cashew butter, you’ll need:
- 2 T Betsy’s Best Cardamom Cashew Butter
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup spinach, shredded
- 2 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped and seeded
- 2 T lemon juice
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 ripe avocado, chopped
- 1 cup spinach leaves
Prepare the recipe by:
- Cooking the quinoa and water in a 1.5-quart saucepan.
- Bring water to boil and reduce heat.
- Simmer quinoa, cover, for 15 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
- Put cooked quinoa in a medium bowl.
- Add tomato, spinach, shredded avocado, and onion, and stir to combine.
- In a separate bowl, make the dressing by whisking together lemon juice, Betsy’s Best Gourmet Cashew Butter, and oil.
- Add dressing to quinoa, and toss to coat.
- Place spinach leaves on 4 plates.
- Spoon quinoa mixture onto the spinach.
You should get 4 meal-sized salads from this recipe.
As more people learn about the health and environmental consequences of consuming animal products, you can expect more of your customers to choose plant-based meals. Visit Betsy’s Best to learn more plant-based recipes you can add to your menu.