Plant-based foods are increasingly finding home on fast-food menus across the North America thanks in part to a “cool factor,” food-industry publication QSR Magazine said. Fast-casual restaurants such as Philadelphia’s HipCityVeg and New York City’s The Cinnamon Snail have found success in serving animal-free food by creating inventive recipes with word-of-mouth appeal—including peppercorn ranch battered Buffalo chick’n sandwiches and mac-and-cheese-topped pretzel bun burgers—marketing to omnivores and veg-eaters alike. HipCityVeg owner Nicole Marquis echoes this sentiment, saying that in order to move forward with expanding her brand by 25 more restaurants over the next few years, she “can’t grow a business … on one or two percent of the population. If I want to carry out my mission, I have to make food that’s attractive to the 98 percent who eat meat.” An awareness of what consumers are putting in their bodies is also driving the trend of plant-based foods infiltrating the mainstream. Illinois-based Purple Sprout Café attracts curious and health-conscious customers with better-for-you sweets such as mint-chocolate-spinach cheesecake, and retains them with an extensive organic, mostly raw menu boasting Freed Salmon Rolls and Spared Egg Salad. Toronto-based eatery Freshii’s menu is default vegetarian but can be modified to either include meat or be entirely vegan—and more customers are choosing meatless at the rapidly growing chain, located in more than 75 cities in 15 nations. “People are realizing that there are negative health effects with excessive meat consumption, and more are trying to take action on health,” Andie Shapira, a nutritionist at Freshii, said.
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