Canadians can expect more veggies on their plates in the coming years thanks to growth of so-called plant-based restaurant concepts—those that offer contemporary vegan and vegetarian fare to a growing audience of consumers who avoid meat, at least on occasion.
Restaurants are showcasing more veggies as a main attraction, sometimes with full menus devoted to dishes devoid of meat. This not only attracts vegans and vegetarians, but those omnivores who avoid meat on occasion for health or environmental concerns—diners also known as “flexitarians.”
And while other trends that address dietary concerns like gluten free peak and recede, Technomic’s MenuMonitor data shows that plant-based dishes should prove more lasting. Mentions of “vegetarian” on Canadian menus grew 7.2% over the past two years and 24.5% over the past year. Mentions of “vegan” are up 29.6% and 16% over the same time frames.
Several other factors indicate this trend is not just another diet fad, but a lasting movement:
- It’s far-reaching—we are seeing these concepts emerge from Toronto to Calgary to Vancouver as well as in other mature markets like the U.S., Europe and Australia
- Large companies are experimenting—McDonald’s offers the Mediterranean Veggie Signature McWrap here in Canada and has a vegetarian quinoa burger in Europe, while Burger King touts its Veggie Burger as flavourful enough to satisfy even non-vegetarians
- Upstarts are pushing the envelope—Vancouver’s new Virtuous Pie applies the plant-based model to pizza and ice cream, two craveable comfort foods with broad appeal, while Calgary’s Veg-In YYC offers a similar experience with Veggito burritos, burgers and poutines
While it won’t make sense for most restaurants to develop largescale plant-based menus, operators should consider addressing this lasting trend to ensure that their menus remain compelling to all guests. Starters, small plates and sides are great categories to start introducing more veggie options, and vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians alike will appreciate a few entree choices that feature veggies in flavourful, craveable formats.