UK-based Bella Italia, a chain of restaurants serving Italian food, has debuted vegan cheese at its more than 100 locations across Britain.
The new addition was included in a recent menu update. Executive chef Vittorio Lettieri is behind the changes, which, according to Bella Italia, were made to cater to the growing vegan market as well as the demand for “healthier options.”
The dairy-free cheese isn’t the first vegan-friendly item to appear on the chain’s menu. Diners can opt for pasta dishes such as Lenticchie or Pomodoro, with the option of swapping out the wheat-based pasta for spiralised vegetable ‘spaghetti.’ Vegan pizza, Risotto Funghi, and the new Verde Burger is also available, as well as salad, soup, bruschetta, and a starter of olives.
Chief operating officer at Casual Dining Group, James Spragg, said in a statement: “Against a challenging market backdrop, we’ve had a very positive start to the year, as Italian food remains incredibly popular with UK diners.”
“That said, we operate in a fast-paced industry, and innovation is imperative for success so we need to continually build on this momentum.”
Spragg added, “This latest menu innovation reflects the rise in popularity of healthier alternatives and ethical choices, but also demonstrates our commitment to always listen to our customers, and the market, and our willingness to adapt.”
“Crucially, we’ll always do this whilst staying true to our identity and brand DNA, which for us is creating genuine Italian dining experiences to enjoy with friends and family.”
Bella Italia, along with 12 other UK chain stores, added vegan options to menus in January this year in celebration of Veganuary. Pizza Express, Zizzi, and Pizza Hut all also added vegan cheese to pizzas, as a growing number of consumers in Britain shift to a plant-based diet. January data found that almost 30 percent of people in the UK want to give up cheese made from cow’s milk in 2018. Further, separate research claimed that the number of vegans in the UK now exceeds three-and-a-half-million people – or 7 percent of the population – suggesting a 700 percent increase in veganism in the last two years.
Image Credit: Bella Italia