2020 applicants
News

Are restaurants failing to respond to the rising consumer demand for vegetarian and vegan options?

Edge Hotel School student finds vegetarians and vegans are calling for more choice in restaurants

  • Date

    Mon 22 Oct 18

essex-life-food-colchester

Restaurants are failing to respond to the rising consumer demand for vegetarian and vegan options, a survey by an Edge Hotel School student has found.

More than 1,300 people responded to an online questionnaire set up by Helena Green as part of research for her degree in hotel management

“I was overwhelmed with the incredible response I received in just four days and I hope this research highlights a prevalent issue in the industry,” said Helena, who is vegetarian. “It is clear restaurants are under performing. If restaurants provided a better choice of vegetarian and vegan options, people would eat out more often.”

Latest figures report that 3.5 million people in the UK identify as vegans and 28% of meat-eaters say they have reduced the amount of meat they eat, put down to a rise in both health and environmental awareness.

Helena’s survey, which targeted vegetarians and vegans, found that 77% were unhappy with the availability of main courses available for them, nearly 75% of people said they would eat out more if there was a better choice in restaurants.

Helena also investigated the menus offered at 73 restaurants within 10 kilometres of Colchester, where she was based for her course. She found that more than two-thirds of restaurants didn’t offer any vegan options at all, with fine dining and formal restaurants offering significantly fewer vegetarian choices and chain restaurants offering by far the most.

The survey found that vegans would like at least four appropriate choices on a restaurant menu, when in fact there was, on average, less than one vegan main dish. Vegetarians were in a better position, with an average of more than four dishes, but they still would prefer a wider selection.

Helena said: “These figures really emphasise the extensive gap between expectation and reality.”

Nearly 45% of respondents felt that vegetarian and vegan options were not always clearly labelled or easy to identify.

Apart from looking for more options on menus, beyond a salad, respondents also wanted clearer menu labelling, more creativity, less use of oil and for staff to have a better knowledge of dietary requirements.

Key findings: 

  • 1,335 participants, 1007 of whom identified as vegan
  • 43.9% strongly agreed that they would eat out more if there was a better choice in restaurants and 31% agreed
  • Diners questioned would like to see 5.96 vegetarian main course options and 4.38 vegan options
  • 43.5 per cent of respondents thought vegetarian and vegan options were not always clearly labelled or easily identifiable
  • Analysis of 73 restaurants found an average of 4.38 vegetarian main courses and 0.74 vegan courses
  • 36% of respondents said they would like to see 3-4 vegetarian options, followed by 30% who would like 5-6 vegetarian options
  • 49% would like to see 3-4 vegan options and 27% 5-6 options