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The Importance of Offering Menu Substitutions

Today, the number of vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free committed individuals is ever increasing. Studies coming out showing the negative effects of consuming meat and animal products on the body as well as the environment are always in circulation. That is why it is extremely important for the restaurant community to notice the ever-changing trends and properly respond to them in menu items and options.

The nutrition field is always changing and coming out with new dietary taboos, some of which stick and become a movement within the public and some of which don’t. However, it is important that restaurants keep up with these trends, research them and see how they can be incorporated into their current menu.  People love to go out to eat, but if they feel their chances of finding something they can or will enjoy are very slim, they will more often than not choose to stay home.

These accommodations can be as simple as leaving meat out of an already existing dish or adding tofu or mushrooms as a substitute. A gluten-free bread, tortilla, or bun can give those with a gluten intolerance a better experience. Having a vegan section on the menu can also be a helpful way of accommodating customers. The restrictions of a vegan diet encompass many other dietary restrictions as well, such as vegetarian, lactose-free and if the menu options provide, gluten-free. Dietary accommodations make the customer feel that they are cared about and are really getting what they paid for.

Most restaurant owners will have a feeling for who their customer is. Owners should be communicating with the wait staff to find out what the customers are asking for and see what is in popular demand within their area.  This in-house study alongside keeping up with latest nutrition trends will help keep the menu current and accommodating.

Some simple questions to ask as a Restaurant owner:

  1. Which menu items are people ordering the most and why?
  2. How do my menu items align with the current nutritional trends?
  3. Is my menu user-friendly for those with dietary restrictions?
  4. What is the number one item customers are asking for which we don’t provide?

 

Some good nutritional resources:

nutrition.gov – This webpage is government run and can help you ensure you are meeting dietary restrictions properly.

fns.usda.gov/tn/myplate – MyPlate is a go-to resource for all nutrition questions and resources.

eatright.org – This is an excellent resource for more specific diet restrictions or meal planning for athletes.

In a day and age with nutrition and environment blazing the path for many peoples dietary decisions, having a current and accommodation menu will not only increase the customers satisfaction but will undoubtedly increase a restaurants popularity and success.

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