With Veganuary 2022 behind us, it is expected that more people than ever will seek out vegan-only restaurants or at least ask for a vegan menu when they eat out. According to an analysis by Finder.com, there are currently over 6,400 vegan eating establishments in the UK, with the “easiest” areas for vegans being Brighton, Falmouth, Lancaster, Chichester and Canterbury. Brighton alone has a staggering 203 vegan and vegetarian restaurants. Here we will take a closer look at the emerging trends for vegan restaurants for 2022.
Plants are increasingly centre stage
It might sound counter-intuitive, but plants are increasingly centre stage in plant-based restaurants. In part, this may be because some consumers have now made the transition from eating meat to becoming flexitarian and have emerged out the other side as fully-fledged plant-based eaters. According to Heather Morris, co-founder of consultancy SHFoodie, “Plant-based products will continue to push the boundaries with technology to produce ever more realistic meat alternatives, but plants are also set to be centre stage; not mimicking meat but coming into their own as meal centres, particularly for the increasing number of flexitarian consumers who are simply reducing the amount of meat they consume and increasing the amount and variety of vegetables on their plate”. She says that as a result, more and more plant-based restaurants are making vegetables the “hero” ingredients, and are no longer just the “supporting act”.
The rise of vegan seafood
Documentaries such as Seaspiracy have highlighted the negative impact of the seafood industry, both on our marine environments and also on human health. As with many trends, this trend has come from the United States, where there are an ever-increasing number of fast food and chain vegan restaurants. In the UK, we expect to see more fish-like products, including vegan sushi, vegan “fish” and chips, vegan scampi, and plant-based tuna. Indeed, Wagamama already has their “PETA Vegan Food Award-winning” vegan chilli squid, and Wasabi has their Yasai Roll Set with vegan hosomaki rolls, inari pockets, and wakame seaweed, and Yo-sushi has introduced vegan sushi rolls, maki, gyoza, temaki, inari, and katsu curry.
Finally, one of the bugbears for many transitioning from a traditional to a plant-based diet is the lack of viable alternatives to eggs. All of this is changing, however. Many restaurants are offering vegan egg alternatives, not just as ingredients in cooking but in their own right. It is now possible to have vegan scrambled egg, fried egg, and poached egg for brunch and not feel left out. One of the trailblazers in this area was the plant-based cafe “The Vibe” on Paradise Street in Liverpool, which serves vegan fried eggs as a core part of its menu.
Veganism can take some credit for the radical, fresh and highly creative evolution of restaurants in the UK. As plant-based eating becomes mainstream, more restaurants are likely to go wholly vegan, and with this, we expect to see more interesting and exciting trends emerge in the future.