The days of boring salad are officially behind us with exciting vegan restaurant news cropping up every week. With the holidays in full swing, restaurants are going all in on their Christmas specials such as Vanilla Oat Nog Lattes at Caribou Coffee and Peppermint Shakes at Burgerville. 

Plant-based Philly Cheesesteaks are the stars of Art Basel in Miami this week thanks to a partnership between vegan steak darling Chunk Foods and chef Paul Qui. And over at Pizza Hut UK, the addition of vegan pepperoni pizzas is what we call a Christmas Miracle. Read on for more. 

1Cocoa peppermint shakes and sundaes

With Christmas just around the corner, we’re all craving something with a hit of peppermint and Pacific Northwest chain Burgerville has just the thing this holiday season. Available from now until January 8, the chain’s new Cocoa Peppermint Shake and Sundae stand out as festive desserts.

Both can be made vegan with plant-based ice cream from Cosmic Bliss and enhanced with Merry Mint syrup from Holy Kakow, a company that shares Burgerville’s ethos of using organic and responsibly sourced ingredients. The syrup infuses a vibrant peppermint flavor into the desserts, evoking the classic holiday spirit.

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The final touch of crushed peppermint candy adds a crunch and a visually appealing contrast, making these treats as Instagram-worthy as they are tasty.

Burgerville’s seasonal menu also features the Rosemary Sea Salt Fries which are cooked in a garlic-infused oil and seasoned with rosemary salt and red pepper from Jacobsen Salt Co.

The chain’s Fall Seasonal Salad is also new and reflects the rich produce of the Pacific Northwest’s fall and winter seasons. It’s a healthful blend of radicchio, spinach, red leaf lettuce, shaved Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, crispy chickpeas, and sliced red onion. 

2Ohio: a vegan doughnut destination?

As it turns out, Ohio might be the next top vegan doughnut destination. That’s because Destination Donuts in Columbus recently transitioned to a mostly vegan menu. Known for its inventive flavors such as macadamia, blackberry merlot, butterscotch, raspberry coconut, and cookie butter, the shop announced its switch to vegan dough and primarily vegan toppings and icings.

While offering some non-vegan toppings displayed on black trays for differentiation, the shop ensures that all its doughnuts, including those with non-vegan toppings, are made with vegan dough. 

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Another exciting addition to Ohio’s vegan doughnut scene is Monster Baby Donuts, a gluten-free, vegan bakery specializing in allergy-safe food. Owner Emma Fleming began her journey with pop-ups around the Dayton area. Now, she’s opening her first brick-and-mortar location at East Market, near Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus.

Fleming’s venture into allergy-safe baking is deeply personal, stemming from her own experiences and her family’s multiple food allergies. Her journey has come full circle from her childhood days of searching for allergy-safe treats at markets. 

Monster Baby Donuts offers an array of mini donuts, muffins, cookies, and fudge with popular flavors like Orange Cranberry, Second Breakfast, Apple Pie, and Cookie Monster.

3Vanilla oat nog lattes at Caribou

Coffeehouse chain Caribou Coffee, which is part of Panera Brands, has announced an exciting addition to its holiday menu. This year, in addition to non-vegan beverages such as the Ho Ho Mint Mocha Espresso Shaker, guests can savor the new Vanilla Oat Nog Latte—a creative twist on the classic eggnog latte, crafted for those who prefer or require dairy-free alternatives.

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“We are embracing the spirit of innovation this year with the return of Caribou’s holiday beverage line-up,” Matt Reiter, Senior Vice President of Product & Procurement at Caribou Coffee, said in a statement. “New festive beverages including the Ho Ho Mint Mocha Espresso Shaker and Vanilla Oat Nog Latte are great options for guests that crave new ways to enjoy holiday classics.”

“We are always looking for exciting ways to elevate seasonal flavor profiles and craft them with a fresh approach, whether that is bringing a seasonal flavor to your favorite espresso beverage or elevating a classic eggnog beverage with a non-dairy alternative,” Reiter said. 

The Vanilla Oat Nog Latte combines espresso and steamed oat nog with vanilla flavor, topped with ground nutmeg. This beverage, which is also available iced, joins other dairy-free offerings at Caribou. These additions reflect Caribou Coffee’s commitment to meeting the diverse needs of its customers, following its significant move earlier in the year to drop the vegan milk surcharge for Caribou Perks members. 

Since customers order approximately 20 percent of all Caribou beverages with oat or almond milk, we expect fun new vegan additions for many seasons to come. 

4Vegan Philly Cheesesteaks at Art Basel in Miami

Plant-based cheesesteaks are playing a starring role at this Art Basel Miami Beach, a fair that has been showcasing artists from around the world for 21 years. Crafted by Top Chef winner and James Beard awardee Paul Qui, the vegan Philly cheesesteak features plant-based steak made by Chunk Foods and cashew queso.

Available in the Faena Art Project Room until December 6, the vegan creation can be enjoyed alongside craft cocktails, live DJ entertainment, and Chef Qui’s other gourmet dishes.

“Eating plants is the future and I’m happy that there’s a product that puts nature’s processes for umami in the spotlight,” Qui said in a statement. “Flavor is everything, and Chunk is delicious.”

Founded in 2020, Chunk Foods has been notable for its partnership with Florida’s Charley’s Steak House, its growing footprint at restaurants across the country, and its presence at the Formula 1 Smoke Show in Austin, TX, as the only vegan meat provider.

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“It’s been a breakout year for Chunk Foods and what better way to end it than by being on the menu at one of the world’s biggest and best art fairs,” Amos Golan, Chunk Foods Founder and CEO, said in a statement.

“Art Basel attracts an incredible international crowd and, as Chunk Foods will soon expand our global availability, this is beyond ideal timing to introduce more diners to our award-winning plant-based steaks,” Golan said. 

5Beyond Pepperoni at Pizza Hut

One present we’d be happy with this Christmas is just one vegan pizza at Pizza Hut in the United States. While we cross our fingers for that one, it looks like Santa has already visited our friends across the pond.

This month, Pizza Hut UK and Beyond Meat announced the expansion of their ongoing partnership with the launch of their new Beyond Pepperoni range across the country. This innovative offering, now available at all Pizza Hut delivery locations and set to arrive at dine-in restaurants in January 2024, is a response to the growing demand for plant-based food options.

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The Beyond Pepperoni range in the UK includes the Big New Yorker, Beyond Pepperoni Feast Pizza, and the Beyond Pepperoni Melt. While the builds use dairy cheese, vegan cheese can be substituted in any of the three pizzas for no extra cost. 

“We’re so proud to be partnering with Beyond Meat again for the launch of our Beyond Pepperoni range,” Hazell White, Head of Brand & Innovation at Pizza Hut UK & Europe. “We’ve launched this in November so everyone can enjoy our great-tasting pizza over the festive period, whether that’s in our Melts or on our Big New Yorker.”

“With so many different tastes and dietary preferences, it can be difficult to find a satisfying and tasty pizza that suits everyone,” Hameed Jagani, Vice President of Global Strategic Partnerships at Beyond Meat, said in a statement. 

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This expansion is backed by recent UK government data indicating a significant decline in animal meat consumption, the lowest in decades. Beyond Meat has capitalized on this trend, experiencing growth and demand in the UK, with its products available at major retailers and in restaurants such as McDonald’s, where the McPlant Burger is a staple.

The shift towards plant-based diets is not just a UK phenomenon but a greater European trend, according to a study from Smart Protein which found that an average of 28 percent of Europeans consume plant-based food alternatives weekly, up from 21 percent in 2021. 

Further, it found that 51 percent of European meat consumers have reduced their meat intake annually (up from 46 percent in 2021), and approximately 45 percent of Europeans have maintained a non-meat diet (flexitarian, vegan, vegetarian) for over two years.

“With more and more British consumers looking to reduce their animal meat consumption, we’re thrilled to offer a delicious, innovative plant-based pizza topping that will delight meat lovers, flexitarians, and vegetarians alike,” Jagani said. 

“Our Beyond Pepperoni helps people continue to Eat What They Love, without compromising on taste, a balanced lifestyle or the environment,” Jagani said. 

Stateside, Pizza Hut did test Beyond Pepperoni at 70 locations across multiple cities in 2021. Sadly, vegan meat did not join the pizza chain’s permanent menu.

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