How to Accommodate Vegans and Vegetarians with an Innovative Restaurant Menu
If you've noticed that your customers are becoming increasingly health-conscious, you should consider accommodating them with vegan and vegetarian-friendly meals. While adding these dishes to your restaurant menu may seem complicated and expensive, it's actually very easy to prepare these tasty meals. Whether you use tofu, tempeh, seitan, or legumes, accommodating vegans and vegetarians with an innovative restaurant menu will make customers feel welcome and boost your profits.
Veganism vs. Vegetarianism
Wondering what the difference is between veganism and vegetarianism? Vegetarians don't eat meat or seafood, but do consume animal byproducts like eggs, cheese, and butter. Vegans, on the other hand, don't eat meat, seafood, or animal byproducts. There are also several sub-categories of vegans and vegetarians that modify these diets in different ways, such as pescetarians and raw food vegans. If you're interested in accommodating these customers but aren't sure where to start, keep reading!
What is Soy?
Soy-based foods are often used as meat replacements, as they're easy to prepare and are packed with protein, fiber, and amino acids. Soybean (or soya bean) plants are a species of legume native to East Asia and are commonly used in feeding livestock or cooking.
Consuming soybeans reduces bad cholesterol and lowers blood pressure, so these dishes will be ordered by health-conscious consumers alongside vegans and vegetarians. Even better, soybeans are a sustainable and cost-efficient alternative protein source to meat, and growing them is far more environmentally friendly than meat processing.
Products that Contain Non-Fermented Soy
A variety of meat replacements and other popular foods contain non-fermented soy. Here are a few of the most well-known examples:
- Textured vegetable protein (TVP) is a defatted soy flour product with a crumbly texture that's often used as a replacement for ground beef.
- Soy milk is made by soaking dried soybeans, grinding them, and adding the grounds to water. The resulting product is ideal for making drinks for lactose-intolerant patrons.
- Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk and pressing the curds into soft or firm blocks. Tofu is an excellent meat replacement due to its mild flavor and ability to take on the flavors of the ingredients it's prepared with.
- Edamame are cooked and seasoned immature green soybeans often served as appetizers at Asian restaurants.
Products that Contain Fermented Soy
On the other hand, there are a handful of fermented soy products that are perfect for serving vegans and vegetarians. The list below covers some of the most popular options:
- Tempeh has a firm texture, mushroom-like flavor, and is made by pressing soybeans into cake-like forms. This meat analogue is a great replacement for ribs, bacon, and chicken.
- Soy sauce is made from brine and boiled soybeans and commonly eaten with sushi.
- Miso is a bean paste that's popular in Asian cooking and is used in pickling or served on its own as a soup.
- Natto is a blend of soybeans and various safe bacteria that's commonly eaten with soy sauce and mustard.
Soy Dishes to Add to Your Menu
If you're wondering how to integrate soy into your restaurant's menu, check out the recipes below:
- The Woks of Life's Loaded Crispy Tofu Tacos
- The Spruce's TVP Sloppy Joes
- Oh My Veggies's Sweet and Sour Tempeh
What is Seitan?
Seitan is a processed wheat gluten product with a dense, chewy texture that's similar to meat. Like soybeans, it's a great source of protein that will leave guests feeling full and satisfied. Seitan is made by washing wheat dough with water until its starch granules have been removed. The resulting product is an insoluble mass of gluten that's formed and cooked before consumption. If you serve guests with gluten intolerance, you can also prepare gluten-free seitan using gluten-free flour.
Seitan Dishes to Add to Your Menu
Looking to accommodate vegetarians and vegans with seitan? Check out the delicious recipes below:
Other Meat Alternatives to Accommodate Vegans and Vegetarians
Soy-based products and seitan aren't the only foods you can serve to vegans and vegetarians. These popular meat alternatives are also great options when serving these patrons.
Dense, meaty, and delicious, portobello mushrooms are a smart choice for creating vegan- and vegetarian-friendly "hamburgers." They're also a healthy option that can reduce inflammation, boost your immune system, and promote healthy digestion. Check out this recipe for portobello mushroom burgers:
In addition to mushrooms, you can use firm vegetables like eggplant, potatoes, and beets to accommodate vegans and vegetarians. Similarly, cauliflower is a healthy, delicious replacement for hamburgers and steaks. Whether you roast, saute, or grill these vegetables, your guests are sure to love the results. Use the eggplant and cauliflower recipes below as a starting point:
- Vegetarian Times's Eggplant Steak with Chickpeas, Roasted Red Peppers, Feta Cheese, and Black Olives
- Pinch of Yum's Spicy Cauliflower Burgers
Dishes made with legumes are another cost-effective and delicious choice to incorporate into your vegan- and vegetarian-friendly menu. From lentils and chickpeas to black beans and aduki, legumes can be used to make a wide variety of meals. In addition to being easy to prepare, beans promote digestive health and can help fight type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Check out the recipes below for inspiration:
- The Blissful Balance's Simple Lentil Meatballs
- Veganosity's Vegan Spicy Black Bean Quinoa Burgers
- The V Word's Gluten-Free Spicy Italian Sausage
Whether you run a restaurant, upscale bistro, or food truck, creating an innovative menu that accommodates vegans and vegetarians is always a smart choice. Incorporating soy-based products, seitan, vegetables, and legumes into your lineup also promotes better health and nutrition, which your customers are sure to love.