With 600,000 people in the UK now following a vegan diet, the lifestyle can no longer be ignored by restaurants, especially over the busy Christmas period. There’s a whole sector of potential customers you could be missing out on by not offering a vegan alternative for Christmas lunch!
But how do you go about creating an effective vegan menu? Read on to find out…
How many people dine out at Christmas?
You don’t need us to tell you how busy it gets over the festive season, if you run a restaurant. As well as run-up bookings, it appears more people are making reservations at restaurants for Christmas Day than ever before, and results from Google Trends validate this. Between 2011 and 2015 alone, there was a 251% increase in people celebrating the holiday outside of their home and 35% of Brits would consider doing the same.
Be sure to do your research before introducing a vegan menu to your Christmas offerings. If local diners aren’t interested, you don’t want to waste time producing a vegan menu!
Creating a vegan menu
You probably have vegetarian options already on your menu, but vegan options need a little more planning. Initially, most restaurants believe that they are limited with what they can serve to a vegan, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Almost anything you would serve to a non-vegan, you can put a vegan twist on it and create a standalone dish.
Consider a vegan nut roast for a Sunday dinner or Christmas lunch-worthy vegan option. This can serve between six and eight people and takes around two hours to make. If you have enough vegan customers, this could be the perfect dish to make and then serve separately. Simply combine root vegetables with mushrooms, grains, hazelnuts and fresh herbs and then add additional parsnip crisps to add a crunchiness to the dish.
Many vegan-friendly Christmas dishes will make use of ingredients you already have. So, this will not impact your current relationship with suppliers.
Vegan options aren’t just reserved for vegans either; you can use vegan chocolate to make a gorgeous fudgy chocolate cake that everyone will want a slice of, vegan or not! To be more convenient with ingredients and time spent preparing other desserts in the kitchen, you could keep this as your only chocolate cake dish as it will taste just as good as non-vegan options. Using avocado, soya milk and muscovado sugar, no one will know the difference. This indulging cake will only take an hour to prepare and cook but will serve up to 16 people.
Methods of research
So, you initially need to know what the demand for a potential vegan menu is. To carry out extensive customer research, there’s a mixture of methods that you can follow to gain reliable data that can inform your restaurant decisions and even your future budgets.
Chances are, your restaurant is already on social media; it is a perfect platform for gathering data. If you already have an established following, create a free survey on software like SurveyMonkey that asks questions around veganism and whether your audience would like to see more options on your menu. Promote this to your own audience and then push it out in local groups to generate a more valuable response.
You could also speak to your current customers to see how they feel about a vegan catering option. Remember, they may have friends and family members who follow this type of diet.
For the benefit of feedback, you could also host a taster session and invite vegan bloggers and food critics along. They could then post about your new menu and generate more publicity for your restaurant.