Tips on marketing your vegan options

1) Marketing to customers seeking vegan food

If you can already offer vegan options, let your potential customers know!

# Preferably this will be by putting a vegan options on the menu and labelling it.

# Specifying which dishes are also available in a vegan version is another approach, if some existing dishes can easily be modified to make them suitable for vegans on request.

# Or at the very least, put a mention on the menu somewhere that vegan options are available – this is at least an indication that you are happy to cater for vegan customers, even if they don’t know what they’ll be getting.

# In addition, a mention on your website will also help to catch potential customers who are searching the internet for restaurants which offer vegan food.

Don’t wait until customers come to you and ask – they probably won’t!

Saying “we’ll do something vegan if someone asks” is not the best way of attracting vegan customers or groups including vegans.

If there’s nothing vegan or that at least looks like it might be vegan-friendly on the menu, the average customer won’t approach you to ask for a vegan meal and wouldn’t assume they would be entitled to (unless they’ve been invited along by non-vegans and don’t have a choice).

It’s much simpler for potential customers to choose somewhere else that appears more likely to cater for them.

2) Marketing vegan-suitable food in a way that is accessible to all customers

Vegan food is suitable for practially all customers, and tasty vegan options will appeal to most people in its own right.

However, promoting a dish as VEGAN in big letters, or making the fact that it’s vegan more prominent than the description of the dish itself, can sometimes be a barrier for customers who aren’t specifically seeking vegan food. Often it’s because they don’t identify with the label ‘vegan’ and feel that a specifically vegan dish isn’t ‘for them’.

Fortunately, this situation is easy to avoid once you’re aware of it. Make sure your labelling is present, but keep it subtle.

For instance, don’t call a dish “Vegan Cake” or “Vegan Lasagne”. Call it “Chocolate Fudge Cake” or “Butternut Squash, Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Lasagne” and put in small writing next to it, ‘(vg)’ or ‘(vo)’ or ‘vegan’, ‘egg-free and dairy-free’ with an approriate key at the bottom of the menu. (‘vg’ often refers to ‘vegan’, ‘vo’ to ‘vegan option/version available’. The vegans will spot it, the non-vegans won’t.

This is taken from the Vegan Society guide to vegan living, & tweaked.

Three main reasons why vegan options are good for business

1) Vegan food is not just for vegans!

Having good vegan options on the menu means the restaurant is automatically ready to cater for a wide range of different customers.

Vegan food also meets the needs of:

# vegetarians, including lacto-vegetarians who do not eat eggs.
# many religious dietary requirements (for example, if the meal does not contain alcohol then vegan food is halal, and is suitable for those who do not eat various types of meat for religious reasons).
# often more suitable for healthy eaters or people watching their weight than traditional meat / cheese-laden restaurant dishes.
# people trying to cut down on meat consumption either for ethical, environmental or health reasons, and any customer looking for something a bit different.
# everyone else! (barring any individual food allergies or intolerances).

Vegan options are a useful way of making your life easy.

2) Good vegan options could win the custom of large groups. If a group of friends, relatives or colleagues is going out for a meal, and one or two members of the group are vegan, they may well all go somewhere which can cater for everyone in the group, including the vegan(s).

Or, put another way, if you don’t have good vegan options, the entire group may well go somewhere else.

3) It’s not difficult and you probably don’t have to put extra dishes on the menu. Every restaurant has vegetarian options, usually a selection of vegetarian options. Just make several of your vegetarian options also suitable for vegans. Job done.

This is taken from the Vegan Society guide to vegan living, & tweaked.