With plant-based eating on the rise, it’s clear that consumers are paying more attention to what is on their plate—and what is in their takeout meals! Plant-based fast food is trending, with 53% of US consumers claiming eating more plant-based food makes them feel healthier.

The biggest advantage of plant-based fast-food is that it reaches customers who want to try plant-based or who want healthier takeout options when they’re on the go. Consumers want the convenience of ordering in with the benefit of healthy eating. By adding plant-based fast food to your takeout menu, you’re not only giving your customers what they want, but you’re also tapping into a huge opportunity to make your offering more relevant—and potentially increase your profits.

The demand for plant-based fast food

The demand for plant-based dishes has increased exponentially over the past few years. Since the pandemic, plant-based items on US menus have increased by 1,312% . And although only 5% of Americans declare to be vegan, 54% of the population reportedly claim they want to introduce meat and dairy alternatives into their diets.

There are various reasons behind the rise in popularity of plant-based and vegan diets, including the environmental impact of animal agriculture, health concerns towards hormones and antibiotics in animal products, and ethical reasons. Plus, vegan and plant-based dishes are great options for customers with allergies and intolerances to foods like dairy and eggs.

Who’s driving this trend? The younger generation is a driving force behind the explosion of plant-based eating. 65% of Gen-Z consumers say they want a more ‘plant-forward’ diet, while 79% choose to go meatless once or twice a week. Gen-Z are the most likely to choose plant-based when eating out as they simply see it as an equivalent option on the menu.

Plant-based menu profits

Recent data from food delivery apps has shown that vegan and plant-based fast foods are the most ordered-in foods in the UK, Canada and the United States. So, if you miss out on the plant-based trend, your business might be left behind.

According to a recent survey, 30% of people would choose a restaurant with plant-based options over one that doesn't have them. And they’re willing to pay for it: as much as 40% more for a plant-based dish than its “regular” alternative.

When it comes to restaurant costs, switching to meatless alternatives can also help reduce food costs due to their longer shelf-life and lower price volatility. Unlike meat, protein alternatives are made in sterile environments with complete end-to-end operational control, greatly increasing their food safety and availability.

Also, a meat-based dish makes up 30% restaurant’s food cost, whilst a plant-based one costs only 15%. This means you can lower your price point but still increase your margins with these items.

What’s more, 90% of plant-based meat alternatives are ordered by people who are neither vegan nor vegetarian. This means that with a plant-based menu you’ll offer a more enticing and inclusive variety to the customers you already have.

Plant-based fast-food meals and prepping for delivery

If your takeout menu doesn’t have plant-based options yet, take some inspiration from the quick and tasty recipes below to win the hearts (and appetites) of even the most meat-loving customers.

  1. Vegan Fried Cauliflower Tacos
    Give Taco Tuesday a vegan twist. These fried cauliflower tacos feature flavorful Spicy Hatch Chile Mayonnaise drizzled over crispy cauliflower florets, green mango and red cabbage slaw, and topped with cilantro.
    Delivery Tip: Package the tortillas separately and let the diner build the tacos at home to avoid soggy takeout.
  2. Squash, Quinoa and Goat Cheese Enchiladas
    Plant-based Mexican food never tasted so good! These enchiladas are vegetarian and gluten-free, and you can easily make them vegan. Sell them hot or as a “take and bake” meal for the family.
    Chef Tip: Mexican food is a take-out best-seller. Give your own spin on cheesy enchiladas by trying different grains and vegetables, which is also a great way to reduce waste from greens used for other dishes.
    Delivery Tip: To avoid squashy takeout, offer a “bake at home option”. Deliver the enchiladas in foil pans to make prep quick and easy.
  3. Plant-Based Pizza Recipe
    Even the classic pizza can become a plant-based fast-food go-to by swapping cheese for black-eyed peas hummus and sesame paste, and garnishing with vegetables galore.
    Chef Tip: Can’t source spelt flour? Swap it for any other whole wheat variant. If some of the ingredients aren’t available, get creative with what’s in season or what you have in your kitchen.
  4. Black Bean Burger
    This black bean burger patty topped with Boursin cheese, onion, garlic, crispy radicchio and zingy pesto mayonnaise on a wholewheat bun is an unmissable plant-based twist on a takeout favourite.
  5. Cauliflower Gratin with Dijon Hollandaise
    Cheesy cauliflower is served in a smooth hollandaise and Dijon and grainy mustard sauce. A lip-smacking plant-based alternative to mac and cheese!
    Delivery Tip: Offer your customers the option to take and bake this dish at home, for fresh-from-the-oven goodness.
  6. Jerk Cauliflower with Crispy Chickpeas and Spicy Lemon Za'atar Dressing
    Spicy and intense BBQ cauliflower is served with fried chickpeas, smoked gouda and purple kale, tossed in an exotic lemon Za’tar dressing with pickled jalapenos.
    Delivery Tip: Package the chickpeas on the side to preserve their crunchiness when added to the salad. 
  7. Root Vegetable Lentil Wrap
    Hearty and fulfilling, this wrap combines butternut squash and beets flavored with dill, goat cheese mayo and lentils.
    Delivery Tip: No fear of a soggy wrap thanks to the goat cheese mayonnaise keeping everything juicy inside. 
  8. Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Soba Noodle Bowl
    Black soba noodles served with spicy roasted sweet potatoes, king trumpet mushrooms and pickled cucumber drizzled with Coconut Almond Hatch Chile Dress and topped with pepitas for extra crunch. Perfect for health-conscious diners.
    Chef Tip: Salads have always been a go-to for health-conscious customers, delivering great flavor while maintaining great nutrition. Keep your menu varied offering fusion options like Greek or Taco salad. Your usual proteins – like shrimp, chicken and steak – can also become a tasty add-on.