Arguably, nothing is currently more prevalent in the mind of the typical restaurant-goer than health. Whether it be new restaurant sanitation efforts from the coronavirus pandemic or the increased national shift toward plant-based proteins, health seems to be on everyone’s mind when they are considering their dining out options.
Most people agree that a healthy diet has a major impact on how your body responds to illnesses, and many are looking to change their diet for the better in response to the current health crisis. According to some reports, nearly one-half of all consumers say they have consciously been eating healthier in response to COVID-19.
For restaurant owners, adding new healthy options to their menu can also have significant financial benefits as well. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the national meat industry has seen major interruptions, and the price of meat is increasing across the country. For some restaurant owners, their access to meat has become extremely limited due to other impacts on the food supply chain.
One way to shift away from expensive, meat-dense meals is to begin to add more plant-based or seafood-based proteins to your menu. As the summer drags on, many customers will prefer the option for lighter meals – like salads or fresh fish.
The National Restaurant Association has a few clever suggestions for how to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your menu. Try adding trendy vegetables that are currently dominating the culinary scene. Meals can be carried with veggies like kale, cauliflower or brussels sprouts – all of which have seen a significant rise in popularity due to their ability to pair with more traditional and familiar flavors. If there’s pasta on your menu, consider offering a substitution of “zoodles” – or zucchini noodles – for patrons who are trying to be more health-conscious. These thin-cut strips of zucchini have nearly the same texture and taste of traditional pasta, but without the carbohydrate quotient of regular pasta. Restaurant owners can also begin to expand their salad menu by introducing new offerings with healthy and filling toppings like fresh fruit, nuts, and raw vegetables.
If a restaurant owner is truly trying to make a significant move away from meat-based meals, there is a new culinary trend centered around plant-based meat proteins. While traditional vegetarian options have always focused on replacing meat with vegetables, this new trend seeks to mimic the texture and flavor of meat while offering the health benefits of a vegetarian meal. Customers have flocked toward this new trend for many reasons, including increased sustainability, animal welfare, food safety and transparency, and, of course, the health benefits. According to the National Restaurant Association, the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the trend of plant-based meats with a surge in demand at grocery stores nationwide.
With more customers consumed with health concerns than ever, restaurant owners need to be sure to include more health-conscious options in their menus. Making the switch to healthier options has never been more beneficial for establishment owners.