It may be tough to imagine, but just a little over 10 years ago, finding restaurants that carry vegan and vegetarian options was like finding a needle in a haystack. More often than not, it meant driving to the local health food store where the air was always inexplicably perfumed by the fragrance of patchouli and other herbs, though you’re certain that you never saw incense burning. Or, it meant taking a long drive to the closest cafe that offered vegan and vegetarian food at unreasonably high prices $5.99 for a half veggie hummus wrap? No, thank you. But the good news is the struggle of finding delicious plant-based options in restaurants is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
Thanks to increased consumer interest in plant-based dishes, more chains are climbing on board with options that cater to their veggie-craving customers. Pret A Manger, for example, a U.K.-based chain that features grab-and-go options for sandwiches, wraps, salads, and organic coffee recently debuted an all-vegetarian menu at its U.S. locations that feature 12 vegan options. Instead of options like a salad with chickpeas and an assortment of raw vegetables, Pret chose to offer a menu that showcases how flavorful and creative plant-based dishes really can be with options like a Miso Marinated Sweet Potato Banh Mi that will, no doubt, tempt anyone to try.
In the U.K., they even have a couple of all-vegetarian locations called Veggie Pret. But soon, London customers will be able to find Veggie Pret offerings at all London Pret locations — and they’re going to get their own, separate refrigerated section as a permanent fixture.
Reported by Croydon Advertiser, the veg-only refrigerated sections were asked for by members of a public through a survey conducted by Pret that asked how the company could become more vegan and vegetarian-friendly. Clive Schee, the CEO of Pret, announced the new fixtures on the company’s blog stating that “The bold green fridges will be accompanied by monthly veggie and vegan Chef’s Specials and a new campaign which aims to encourage more meat eaters to try our veggie options. This approach does carry some risk and we are treading carefully.”
Schee continued, “I’m curious if our veggie menu will appeal more or less to customers when highlighted in a single fridge. Will it attract or deter our regular meat-eaters? We’ll be monitoring your feedback and the sales very closely.”
We have high hopes for the success of Pret’s vegetarian-only refrigerated sections. In the U.S., a 2016 Harris Poll commissioned by The Vegetarian Resource Group, 37 percent of U.S. customers regularly order meals without fish, meat, or poultry when eating out while only 3.3 percent of U.S. adults identify as vegetarian. Plant-based diets also happen to be one of the fastest-growing trends in the U.K., with a 360 percent increase in the number of adults identifying as vegan within the past decade.
It seems pretty clear that if fast-casual restaurants want to keep up with the times, offering delicious plant-based options is the way to do it.
Lead image source: Pret A Manger