How To Make Your Restaurant Vegetarian-Friendly

It’s a trend online to feature short lists of indeterminate numerical goal focusing on the problems of a certain subset of people, or signs that you are one. The Huffington Post recently published a list of complaints that vegetarians have with the world they live in, the 17 dumbest things vegetarians have to deal with.

As a modern restaurant, you’ve likely had to interact with customers with special vegetarian needs. Looking at this list of complaints from vegetarians, there are many opportunities to make your vegetarian customers happy. We’ve handpicked a few that could particularly apply to the restaurant industry.

Meeting someone who gets mad that you’re a vegetarian

The problem: waitstaff might argue the concept of vegetarianism with customers.

The solution: instruct your staff to treat vegetarianism like any other personal belief; political, sexual, religious, they’re all personal decisions that are private. If a customer is vegetarian, don’t try to talk them into trying something with meat.

Paying the same price at restaurants for the vegetarian option

The problem: the cost of dishes internally goes down when you take out the protein from a plate, even if you are increasing the amount of grains, fruit, or produce to make up the difference.

The solution: while you may not want to advertise this on the menu, you might want an internal price list of dishes without animal ingredients. Customers may love the sauce and noodles of the Chicken Fettuccine but be adverse to chicken; they’ll be pleasantly surprised to see that the removal of the chicken might save them $3 or so.

Having to find a polite way to refuse a cooked meal that isn’t vegetarian, without the chef hating you

The problem: a customer returns a dish, not realizing it has meat in it when they ordered.

The solution: cook up a new dish without the meat, or offer them an alternative option. Don’t begrudge the customer for not knowing the menu, and make sure your menu does its best to indicate to customers what meats are in dishes, or if there are other meat ingredients, like chicken stock, in your dishes.

Fake meat

The problem: fake meat does not appreciably replicate real meat.

The solution: don’t even attempt to include fake meat on the menu. Outside of the possible inclusion of a veggie burger patty option, don’t try to say fake chicken nuggets are an equivalent of real chicken nuggets.

When restaurants refuse to accommodate

The problem: restaurants don’t accommodate their vegetarian customers.

The solution: do just that; accommodate them. You can do that by…

Or when salad is the only option

The problem: the only vegetarian option on your menu is salad.

The solution: many vegetarian dishes can actually completely eschew lettuce. Go for rice dishes, bean dishes, sandwiches and soups for a good amount of variety that can skip meat.

Vegetarians may be a complete segment of your customer base you’ve ignored or underserved; with the correct changes to your restaurant, you might be able to capitalize on their market-share.