With veggie and vegan menus becoming more common, most people have now dabbled in plant based food. Whether that be a Quorn nugget or a McPlant. But what is behind the rise in veggie and vegan dining?

I’m sure you know by now that dining out to eat veggie or vegan food is not all that niche in 2023.

There is now approximately 8.8 million vegans worldwide. 2 million of whom live in the UK. This doesn’t account for the even more colossal amount of people who are vegetarian.

It is safe to say that veganism is taking the world by storm and with an increase in people aware of the impact their animal produce consumption has on the environment, opting for a vegan diet is gaining traction.

Even those who decide not to commit to being completely vegan are more frequently taking an interest in choosing a vegetarian or vegan option- it is even arguably ‘trendy’ to dabble in pea protein over beef.

With this rise in demand has come a rise in vegetarian and vegan restaurants and food vendors, hungry to cater for their growing customer base. Veganism is no longer viewed as a niche part of the market but has its own steak (make it a plant based one) in the industry.

The Vibe, in Liverpool is a ‘hip bi-level spot for creative, plant-based breakfast and lunch.’ Run by a father-daughter team who were devastated when they learnt of the torture and suffering of animals in the agriculture industry.

The Vibe in Liverpool

Director of The Vibe, Mia Mappouridis says: “We wanted to help them by making wholefood, vegan options more accessible by offering plant-based foods to our community.

“Supporting vegan dining helps the masses of animals suffering in the animal agriculture industry.  Vegan dining also helps the environment and people’s health- a whole food, plant-based diet can reduce risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.”

Mia told Behind the Bite that she has noticed a huge increase in the number of customers interested in vegan dining.

Theresa Houghton went vegan 12 years ago after learning how much animal agriculture impacted the planet. “When we do eat out, choosing more plant-based foods can have a big impact,” she says. “These meals tend to not only be healthier but also have lower environmental footprints. Every plant-based meal we buy shows restaurants that there is a demand.”

Vegan dining is more sustainable in many ways, and in the current climate crisis, opting for a vegetarian or vegan restaurant could be a great way to make a difference.

Not only is using solely vegan and vegetarian products more sustainable by default but many of establishments are more sustainable in other areas of their business too, as this aligns with their values. Mia shared that at The Vibe they are conscious of the products they use and only use sustainable packaging.

Other venues are pioneering veggie dining in innovative ways that are bringing it into the fine dining sector.

V or V in Sheffield offer up an ever-changing seasonal menu with all-vegetarian small plates that use the most interesting ingredient combinations to create beautiful dishes.

V or V food, Photo Credits: Ella Brooker

The owner, Matt Burgess explained to us that his customer base has grown massively in recent years- enough so that he has been able to begin expanding his business and can now branch into the street food sector.

Unique dishes using local ingredients such as shimeji mushrooms, daikon and kohlrabi are on the menu. We hadn’t heard of these either until we tried it! By creating an interest around vegetarian food, V or V is encouraging people to give it a go.

It isn’t just independent veggie restaurants that are on the rise. Most chains are doing their bit to appeal to the ever-growing demand with numerous vegan options and creations available on their menus.

The chain restaurant Zizzi even has an entire vegan menu, with most of their pizzas having the option to come with vegan mozzarella instead of normal cheese, as well as many other tasty dishes.

Vegan pizza

Even big burger giants like Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Byron offer up entirely vegan burger options.

The number of options for vegetarians and vegans is rising, making to choose a delicious plant-based option and showing the rocketing want from the public.

Hoorah! For veggies, dining out no longer entails a sad squash risotto whilst you stare at your fellow diners tucking into a cacophony of meat based options.

To many, a meal without meat is seen as weak- something that could not possibly satiate you.

To these people Mia says: “Give it a try! There are so many delicious recipes out there on youtube, pinterest, google and instagram! Get creative and excited about cooking to help the transition and keep an open mind. 

“Education helps too, once you learn more about the reasons for reducing the intake of animal products it makes it easier to transition to a plant-based diet.”

It is safe to say the future is looking rather green.