CHICAGO -- 'Tis the season to ask for leafy green penance on behalf of two months’ worth of indulgences; however, the beginning of a new year isn’t the only time consumers are demanding lighter fare. Although only a fraction of Americans identify as vegan or vegetarian, 67% consider plant-based foods or beverages to be healthy, and these items can drive purchases among 58% of consumers, according to Technomic’s Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report.
Help customers stick to their resolutions with inspiration from these vegan menu items ...
1. Homespun hits
Food Fight Grocery, a chain of two vegan convenience stores in Portland, Ore., features its staff members’ best recipes for in-house culinary innovation. As a limited-time offer, the independent concept offered Rochelle’s Vegan Musubi, a Hawaiian snack layering a grilled protein on a block of sushi rice wrapped in seaweed. Customers could choose from vegan ham; fried rice with aged tofu, which was also gluten-free; and spicy gochujang soy curls flavors. “We have such great and talented staff at Food Fight, and we’re proud to showcase their work,” the company said on its Facebook page.
2. SoCal fresh
Vegan celebrity chef Matthew Kenney is revisiting the concept of a convenience store with New Deli in Venice Beach, Calif., according to his website. The store’s foodservice program is fueled by the restaurateur’s sister plant-based concept Make Out. In addition to on-trend cafe drinks, the c-store offers Make Out’s seasonal wraps and salads. In August, New Deli added Kelp Noodle Cacio e Pepe with snap peas, crispy cured olives and cashew cream. Although the dish screams summer, it can also serve as a craveable alternative to a reluctant New Year’s resolution-inspired salad. New Deli customers could pair their health-forward pasta with kombucha (fermented tea), which is on tap in three flavors.
3. Low-carb pastas
Enroute Market, a gourmet convenience store based in Walnut Creek, Calif., often offers plant-based takes on more indulgent favorites. Owner Heather McNeil curates a selection of healthier chef-made grab-and-go items, cheese and charcuterie. Using all-organic ingredients, Enroute introduced a No-Noodle Lasagna earlier this year. The item combines zucchini noodles, tomato sauce and pesto.
4. Roller grill goes vegan
In early 2018, QuikTrip Corp., Tulsa, Okla., rolled out a vegan burrito. The roller-grill item combines bean, corn and poblano peppers. One Twitter user praised the item, tweeting, “Please don’t let this be one of the items that disappears from the stores. Love finding something besides fruit at #QT for a #Vegan.”