Serving the Growing Vegan Minority

Article contributed by Heidi Matonis – founder, Heidi’s Real Food

By Chef Sean Roopchand, Aramark, Goldman Sachs, NYC

Maybe you haven’t given much thought to vegans lately but after reading this article, you will. The non-meat eating landscape is changing and it is changing quickly.

In 2014, only 1% of the U.S. population identified themselves as part of the vegan minority. In a report, titled Top Trends in Prepared Foods in 2017   prepared by a research company GlobalData, veganism has risen 500%. Now 6% of Americans identify as vegan.

As for the other 94% that do not identify as part of the vegan minority, the #1 trend is going meat-free. The #2 trend is ethical eating. So whether it’s for health, the environment or for ethical reasons, people are cutting down their meat and dairy consumption at a rapid pace. Consider the popularity of the book BV6 which promotes eating vegan each day till 6:00 pm.

As food service providers, it is not your job to promote any one diet but as educated culinary, ideally, you’re in the vanguard of health and sustainability.

Heidi's Real Food vegan
Heidi sampling on premise

Heidi’s provides frozen vegan meatless meatballs in four ethnic flavors. When we roll out in a new location, I like to be on premise to talk and listen.  In the past 6 months, here are some of the comments I’ve heard:

Women’s Foodservice Forum February 2019 728×90

  • At Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse, I’ve heard comments such as: “They don’t know that there are many of us who want to eat plant-based.” “We’re tired of salads.”
  • Dartmouth College told me their vegan station is their 2nd most popular station, only surpassed by their pizza station in popularity. Dartmouth culinary said, “We can’t dumb down vegan, the kids are way too sophisticated to settle for easy vegan, we put effort into this station.”
  • Square Space says their millennials demand vegan in all forms, breakfast, lunch & snacks.

So, if you’re not working hard to offer daily, artistically prepared vegan entrees, you are not leading the charge. The vegan movement is not a fringe movement; it is a seismic wave of change and now is the time to get ahead of it.

Heidi Matonis, Founder of Heidi’s Real Food, maker of ethnically inspired vegan meatballs is passionate about creative, plant-based eating. She has been in retail four years and food service one year. To learn more about Heidi’s Real Food, please visit her website.