Skipping the meat is becoming increasingly common these days. If you’re interested in attracting the more conscious guests and at the same time raise your margins, you might want to consider a green menu update.

Vegetables are healthier

2015 was a historical year for vegetarianism. It was the year that World Health Organization dubbed bacon and charcuteries instrumental ingredients in the occurrence of several cancer forms. Some hotels have already started banning bacon on their breakfast buffets.

You can battle climate change

As the documentary Cowspiracy clearly shows, greenhouse gas emissions are predominantly caused by the cattle industry. In fact, a person on a vegan diet causes only 0,3 tonnes emissions per year, compared to 2 tonnes using a “normal”, meat-heavy diet.

Raise the margins by going green

Rethink your menu. Do you need meat in all your dishes? Probably not. You could even save some money by skipping meat and replacing it with beans, tofu, halloumi and other sources of protein that are filling.

− It’s cheaper to purchase vegetables than meat, says Henrik Norén at Stockholm restaurant Gro. And if the meat is too cheap, you wonder where it actually comes from. Most importantly, you can experiment, learn and try many new things in the kitchen if you buy 10 kilos of beetroots. You would never risk that if you had 10 kilos of expensive beef.

The true cost for vegetables, Henrik adds, mainly lies in the amount of hours spent rinsing, peeling, chopping and cutting.

− Still, there’s a big business potential in using more vegetables. We have two pre-set four-course menus each night – one with meat and one without. We always charge them the same. But you may have to pitch the vegetarian options a bit harder in the beginning, especially during lunch hours.

 

Expand your market

The real question is: can you afford to neglect a rapidly growing target group by treating the vegetarian alternatives as something that “can be arranged upon request”? For Henrik Norén and Gro, vegetables have been playing the lead part in their business model since day one.

− It’s funny – we have always served meat, but someone has listed us as a vegetarian restaurant on Tripadvisor, so we get quite a lot of international tourists coming here. It’s still difficult for people to find decent vegetarian alternatives.

 

Henrik’s best tips on how to become a greener restaurant:

1. It’s a process − you don’t have to change everything at once. How would you prepare your classic dishes if you only could use vegetables? Play around.

2. Read up on legumes – there are lots of fun stuff you could do with lentils, peas and beans for example.

3. Keep it simple. Don’t complicate things. Beetroots with butter is a great dish if you add some goat cheese and roasted sunflower seeds.

4. Experiment with textures. Try to pickle, fry, grill or steam the vegetables. Sprinkle roasted seeds or nuts on top of the food to get a crunchy feel to it.

5. If you’re new to vegetarianism, ask around for help. Use your social media following to ask what your potential customers would like to see in their vegetarian dishes.