How to Add More Plant-Based Options to Your Restaurant Menu

How to Add More Plant-Based Options to Your Restaurant Menu

Are you a restaurant manager or chef looking to add more plant-based options to your menu? I’ve got some easy suggestions.

Eating a whole-food, plant-based diet is a delicious, satisfying, feel-great-all-the-time, self-loving way to live, but it can be labor-intensive.

We make a lot of our own food at home and are used to packing our meals and snacks for work or travel. When traveling, we bring our food on airplanes, to conferences, and on days when the rest of the office is ordering pizza in.

Another trick we use is to sneak salad dressing and plant-based cheese sauce into your establishment to add to your salad, baked potatoes, or pasta– that is when we remember to bring it from home.

Fortunately, things are changing. There are so many more plant-based options in stores and on menus than there were just a couple of years ago, so WAY TO GO if you are one of those leading pack with plant-based alternatives.

But, if you need some help expanding your plant-based options, here are some easy and inexpensive ideas for adding plant-based alternatives to your menu that will satisfy vegans and omnivores alike!

1. A Better Salad

Contrary to popular belief, vegans do not live off salads, but when we do eat salad, it’s not a bowl of iceberg lettuce and tomato wedges. It’s a meal in a bowl.

  • Start with antioxidant-rich dark greens: kale, arugula, spinach, or chard.
  • “Beef” up a salad with plant-based proteins: tofu, lentils, green peas, chickpeas, pinto, kidney, or cannellini beans, and nuts, and seeds.
  • Include a whole grain: quinoa, farro, bulgar, corn kernels or brown rice.
  • Offer to add additional vegetables in place of chicken or cheese. Beets, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, green beans, avocados, and asparagus are all great salad ingredients the restaurant may already stock.
  • Switch to dairy-free salad dressings. Avocado, cashews, almonds, tahini, sunflower seeds, and peanut butter all make a great base for creamy salad dressings.

2. Hearty Meat and Dairy Free Soups and Sauces

Nothing spoils my appetite more than when I gear up for a comforting bowl of vegetable or bean soup, only to find out it contains chicken stock and bacon.

  • Use coconut milk or cream, or pureed potato, cauliflower, nuts, or seeds instead of animal products to achieve a creamy texture in sauces and soups.
  • Use vegetable stock instead of chicken or beef stock.
  • Achieve a meaty or smokey flavor with smoked paprika or liquid smoke instead of bacon or animal fat.
  • Add meaty texture, bulk, and nutrition, to soups with mushrooms, tofu, beans, peas, pasta, or whole grains.

3. Offer Plant-Based Meat and Cheese Substitutions

There are many new plant-based meat and cheese products available. Consider offering to replace meat or cheese with some of these options.

  • Plant-based meatballs and burgers for pasta dishes and burgers.
  • Marinated tofu or mushrooms as a substitution for chicken and fish.
  • Dairy vegan free cheese products for pizza, pasta, potatoes, and sandwiches.

4. Allow Substitutions and be Willing to Experiment

More and more people are trying plant-based menu options, even if they aren’t adapting the diet as a lifestyle. We appreciate restaurants that allow for substitutions or suggestions and enjoy frequenting and promoting eateries that are open to our way of eating. If you have further tips for restaurant menus, please leave them in the comments! Bon Appetit!

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