There are many factors driving the rise in demand for plant-based dining with more patrons than ever seeking cruelty-free food options or looking to boost their veggie quota.

The sustainability movement is another major driver, with millennian and Gen Z patrons leading the way in the search for dishes with a lower carbon footprint.

According to Christian Abbott, executive chef at Australian Venue Co. (AVC), demand for vegetarian and vegan dishes that are free of animal products has ramped up significantly in the last few years.

“We discovered that 25 per cent of customers using Mr Yum to view our menus were searching for vegan or vegetarian menu items, indicating a huge opportunity for us to increase our offering in this space,” he says.

With this in mind, Abbott is cooking up a strategy to help chefs across AVC’s 180 venues meet the demand. “We’re developing a number of new vegan and vegetarian dishes to increase our plant-based offering across the group,” he says.

“We’re taking a lot of time with these dishes, to get them absolutely perfect – and to make sure we’re offering a balance of comfort food and fresh, healthier options that meet vegetarian and vegan dietary requirements.”

Abbott notes that customers are ordering vegan and vegetarian dishes for a number of different reasons these days. “Some are motivated by health reasons and are looking for more light, fresh plant-based offerings, whereas others, motivated by environmental or ethical reasons, might be looking for a meat-free alternative for their favourite pub classics or comfort food.”

Applejack Hospitality’s recently appointed Head of Culinary, Patrick Friesen also notes that there are more flexitarians than there used to be, and in response, and his menus are evolving in response.

“Veggies used to be relegated to sides and were a bit forgotten, so slowly we’ve been creating an entire veggie section before the mains section.

“By doing that it makes it clear for people that while the veggie section is not totally vegetarian, veg is the hero.”

Want to keep reading? Read the rest of the article below in the June issue of Australian Hotelier.

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