Restaurants 'missing out' on half a million vegan diners

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Restaurants 'missing out' on half a million vegan diners

Related tags: Vegan society, Veganism

Restaurants are missing out on thousands of vegan customers by failing to offer a variety of dishes without animal products.

That’s according to new research by The Vegan Society, which says the number of vegans in Britain has boomed to more than half a million in the last ten years.

At least 1.05 per cent of the population now avoids eating meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, and honey.

That’s more than triple the 150,000 people who identified as vegan in 2006, making it one the fastest growing lifestyle movements in the UK.

But while chains such as Zizzi, Pret A Manger and JD Wetherspoon have introduced new vegan-friendly dishes, Jimmy Pierson, spokesperson for The Vegan Society, said more brands needed to follow suit.

He told BigHospitality: “Many restaurants are missing a trick here. Most high street chains offer at least one vegan option, some many more. But now they can see the vast size of the vegan food market for themselves, we encourage them all to really embrace veganism and cater for a fast growing section of society.”

Appetite for plants

But it’s not just vegans who want to see a wider range of options.

According to research from Vegetarian Express, 74 per cent of meat-eaters​ are planning to try new vegetarian meals out-of-home in the next year.

A third of diners have reduced the amount of meat they eat​ in the last twelve months, while one in ten are considering cutting it out completely.

Pierson said: “The demand for vegan food in Britain is now so great, not just from the half a million vegans or the 1.68m vegetarians, but also from the millions of others who just simply enjoy eating vegan meals from time-to-time. These are huge numbers.”

Meat-free goes mainstream

Some restaurants are beginning to pick up on the trend. Pret A Manger is launching its first vegetarian-only store in Soho​ in June to trial a range of meat-free dishes.

Zizzi claims to be the first UK chain to serve pizza with cheese substitute Mozzarisella,​ which is made from germinated Italian whole rice.

Meanwhile vegetarian restaurant group 1847 - which has four sites in Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton and Bristol - is aiming to turn in to a national brand​ over the next ten years.

But despite rising brand awareness Pierson added that vegan options were still in short supply in rural areas, despite 12 per cent of all UK vegans living there.

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