The popularity of plant-based food is on the rise and mainstream fast-casual restaurants are taking notice.
According to FastCasual, which reports on news, events, and trends within the fast-casual restaurant industry, many establishments such as Fatburger, The Counter, and Mark Wahlberg’s burger chain, Wahlburger, now offer the Impossible Burger. The dish is a plant-based burger made from wheat, coconut oil, potato protein, and heme, an iron-rich compound found in meat that gives the burger patty its realistic flavor. Impossible Foods’ premier product is also available at all Bareburger locations throughout the United States.
FastCasual also reports that Indian street food fast-casual concept, Curry Up Now, has also embraced the trend by adding plant-based meat company Hungry Planet’s vegan chicken to the menu at all six Bay Area locations.
“Ever since we launched Curry Up Now in 2009, we’ve been friendly toward vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets,” Akash Kapoor, CEO of Curry Up Now, told FastCasual. “…however, as more and more innovative plant-based proteins were introduced, we knew we wanted to add one to our menu.”
Meanwhile, honeygrow and minigrow, two sister fast-casual chains that specialize in noodles and greens, capitalizes on the growing demand. “I realized that there weren’t enough vegetable-forward fast-casual concepts that catered to every day eating,” CEO Justin Rosenberg said in an interview with FastCasual. Since last year, four locations of minigrow have opened for business and the company plans to open an additional two locations shortly.
Last year, a report called the Food & Beverage Forecast predicted that plant-based food would be the “mega-trend” of 2018. Hospitality company Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants released its fourth-annual Culinary Food and Cocktails Forecast, a report that surveys chefs, bartenders, managers, and sommeliers, experts from around the globe predicted that plant-based food would be one of the top six restaurant trends of the year.
It’s not just fast-casual restaurants that are seeing an increased demand for plant-based food. According to a Harris Poll commissioned by The Vegetarian Resource Group, 37 percent of Americans, regardless of dietary preference, are choosing plant-based options when dining out.
Another sign of the growing popularity of plant-based foods comes from a report released by GrubHub, the nation’s leading takeout service program. In 2017, vegan takeout orders increased by 19 percent in restaurants from 1,200 cities across the United States and London, an all-time high for the company. “With so many vegetarian dishes gaining popularity, it is easy to see that choosing meat-free meals is not just a trend,” said Barbara Martin Coppola, CMO of GrubHub.