Why food chains are jumping on the vegan bandwagon

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In the last few recent years there has been a huge rise in demand for vegan options and alternatives in popular food chains. This demand has taken effect to chains such as San Churro, Guzman y Gomez, Grill’d, McDonald’s and many more, pleasing thousands of vegans across Australia.

The much-loved dessert destination San Churro Chocolateria has introduced a new vegan range for autumn (including 24 drool-worthy desserts) to help satisfy your sugar cravings such as The Happy Vegan, an ice-cream churro bowl.

The unprecedented popularity of these menu items has led to a lack of supply problem, with some stores being unable to serve customers due to a shortage of ingredients used to make the desserts.

Low supply of ice-cream at the Fountain Gate store. Source: Natalie Szkolar via Vegan Girls Melbourne

Mexican restaurant Guzman y Gomez have made a small but impactful change to all their menu items which can now substitute cheese for Mex Chimi Mayo (vegan) at no cost.

Customer service representative Jorge Mansilla spoke about the restaurants beliefs and aims regarding the issue.

“At Guzman Y Gomez we care about the environment and animal welfare, reason why our packaging and utensils are sustainably made and our chicken and eggs are free range, we are continuously working in improving the quality of our food. We do believe that plant based proteins are also part of a brighter future and it is definitely something that we are looking into developing but have not reached the level of the product that meet the GYG standards.”

Other food chains such as Grill’d have made a slightly controversial attempt after introducing the Amazing Vegan Cheeseburger and Hemp Therapea burger, however their decor suggests an evident appreciation for meaty meals. 

Facebook group Vegan Girls Melbourne has over 17,000 members who voice their opinions, share recipes or seek advice regarding veganism. Presi Petkova is an 18-year old student and has been a vegan for two years, becoming extremely passionate after educating herself about the benefits and animal welfare.

“I first began looking into nutrition when I was 15, and was concerned with the health problems dairy and meat caused. End of 2015 I fully went vegan, and now I’m more vegan for the animals and environment. As animal agriculture has a huge impact on climate change, water usage, land depletion and increased waste restaurants and cafes are currently incorporating more vegan options. Chain stores like Dominos, Grill’d, San Churros, Mad Mex, Subway and even McDonald’s in Europe have began adding more vegan options! This incentive attracts more vegan/vego customers, creating more demand and supply, and profit as a wider range of individuals are able to eat there”.

Caitlin Stewart is a 21-year old studying business at LaTrobe University and has been a vegan for almost three years, she highlights the marketing influence behind menu variety.

“I think a key reason (from a marketing perspective) is not just that the market for vegan food is growing, but also that there is a tendency for vegans to be more interested in trying new foods, and more willing to eat out to try these foods (basically a high proportion of the market are passionate foodies)” she said.

“There is a bit of a recent break away in the stigma of vegan foods needing to be healthy, meaning that chains aren’t as scared of producing vegan options”.

Director of Vegan Australia Greg McFarlane believes it is important for popular food chains to be conscious of vegan alternatives and foods – here’s why.

“Firstly, the ethical case: to reduce suffering caused to animals by encouraging people to go vegan. Second, the business case: to profit from the increasing demand for vegan meals”.

Choosing to be vegan has taken over the choice to be vegetarian according to McFarlane “because people have become more aware of the suffering and death inherent in the dairy and egg industries” he said.

“People are realising that they can live healthily without consuming animal products”.

According to Vegetarian Australia, consumption of animal products (measured as calories per person per day) has fallen approximately 20% since the 1960s – why not cater to the 20%? If you’re not convinced food chains should add vegan options to their menus here are some reasons why.

 

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