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With the number of plant-based concepts like Native Foods and Veggie Grill steadily increasing, other operators are looking for ways to incorporate meat alternatives into their menus.
According to a survey conducted by 210 Analytics, Millennials are increasingly interested in vegan cuisine, and more than 60 percent consume meat alternatives.
Celebrity dietician, author, and culinary instructor Julieanna Hever says she can help concepts that are struggling to appeal to this burgeoning demographic find brand-specific offerings with the launch of the Food Trends consulting program.
“We’re not just targeting vegans by any means, though we now know that one in ten Millennials do consider themselves vegan,” Hever says. “There’s also this huge group of ‘flexitarians’ who are open, interested, and recognize the benefits of eating vegan foods, even if they aren’t fully committed to a vegan diet.”
Hever, who has appeared on "The Dr. Oz Show," "The Steve Harvey Show," and E! News, says she will leverage her health and culinary knowledge, along with her relationships with vegan product suppliers, to help operators sort through the ever-increasing number of meatless offerings and find what best coincides with pre-existing menu items.
She points to the success of meatless offerings like Chipotle’s Sofritas and White Castle’s veggie burger option as inspirations for the uptick in vegan menu innovations.
Hever adds that including healthier meat alternatives on the menu is not only good for the bottom line, but for building a brand that appeals to a generation of hyper-aware consumers.
“Because Millennials are so interested and so socially conscious about health, environmental choices, and animal welfare, if better products are available, they’ll come back and they’ll bring their friends,” Hever says.
By staying current with the trend toward meat alternatives, Hever says quick serves and fast casuals can remain relevant and retain Millennial customers.
“Consumers are getting smarter about the impact of what they eat, and with more accessibility to healthier meatless offerings in fast food and other restaurants, they’ll bring the buying power,” she says.
By Emily Byrd