25.5.2022

How to Start a Vegan Food Business

Written by Lauren Valensky

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Over the past few years, veganism has gone from a fringe lifestyle to a mainstream dietary choice. And as more and more people adopt veganism for ethical, environmental, or health reasons, the demand for vegan-friendly products, services and victuals is skyrocketing. So, if you're thinking about starting a food business, veganism can be a lucrative opportunity to explore.

But how do you start a vegan food business? What are some menu ideas for vegan restaurants? And what can you do to create and maintain a successful vegan eatery? 

From top to tofu, here's everything you need to know about starting a vegan food business.

What is veganism?

Veganism is a lifestyle that abstains from using or consuming animal products. This includes avoiding meat, dairy, honey, eggs, and any other food or product that comes from an animal.

Some vegans also extend this philosophy to avoid using or wearing any products made from animals, such as leather, fur, wool, and silk. Others may also avoid using products that have been tested on animals, such as cosmetics or cleaning supplies.

What are the benefits of a vegan lifestyle?

Environmental

A vegan lifestyle can be more environmentally friendly than a non-vegan lifestyle since animal agriculture is a leading cause of deforestation, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Ethical

The animal agriculture industry is rife with abuse and cruelty, and by adopting veganism, you help reduce the demand for animal products and therefore the incentive for this abusive industry to continue operating.

Health

A vegan diet can be healthier than a non-vegan diet, as it is typically lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and higher in fibre and antioxidants. Additionally, veganism (a plant-based diet) has been linked to lower rates of heart disease, obesity, and type II diabetes.

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From offering access to omnichannel inventory management on the go to syncing with leading food delivery app data that goes straight to the kitchen, our powerful POS system can help optimise efficiency across your entire company. 

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What are the benefits of veganism for businesses?

Since the global vegan market is growing rapidly, with its value predicted to reach $24.3 billion (NZ$37.7 billion) by 2026, it's clear that there are business opportunities to be had [1]. That said, gravitating toward veganism can boost more than your business' bottom line.

Better business reputation

Since veganism is a more sustainable way of doing business as it requires less land, water, and energy than animal agriculture - vegan businesses are often viewed by consumers as more trustworthy, and environmentally/socially responsible than their non-vegan counterparts.

 This can make them more attractive to consumers, particularly the younger generations who are increasingly interested in sustainability and increase your customer retention rates overall as a result.

As veganism becomes more mainstream, businesses that cater to this market will also be seen as playing a role in improving wider public health - a great accolade in the context of our current climate. This is especially true for businesses that offer vegan alternatives to unhealthy animal-based products, such as processed meats or dairy products.

Keeps costs low

Veganism can be a more cost-effective way of doing business since plant-based ingredients are generally cheaper than animal-based ones. This can allow businesses to keep their prices low and stay competitive in the market.

Taps into an existing trend

Since there is a growing demand for vegan products and services, opening a vegan food business provides an opportunity to tap into an established hospitality trend that is only going to become more prevalent and profitable in the coming years.

What are some vegan restaurant menu ideas?

If you're thinking about starting a vegan restaurant, there are endless possibilities when it comes to menu ideas. Below are some vegan restaurant ideas to get you started:

  • Appetisers: think veggie-heavy dishes like roasted cauliflower, air-fried Brussels sprouts, or a build-your-own nachos bar with vegan cheese and all the fixings.
  • Soups and salads: try a variety of soups, like tomato bisque or lentil chilli, or offer a selection of salads with different dressings and toppings.
  • Entrees: vegan entrees can be just as hearty and satisfying as their non-vegan counterparts. Some ideas include seitan steak, stuffed sweet potatoes, portobello mushroom burgers, and black bean taquitos.
  • Desserts: no vegan restaurant would be complete without a selection of delicious vegan desserts. Try vegan cookies, cakes, brownies, or ice cream.

Vegan restaurant concepts:

As you can see, there are endless possibilities when it comes to vegan menu ideas for restaurants. However, certain eatery concepts take particularly well to veganism.

Here are some vegan recipe ideas to get you started:

  • Plant-based junk food joint: think bean burgers, cauliflower nuggets and dairy-free ice cream.
  • Sushi bar: offer a variety of vegan sushi rolls, as well as soups, salads, and appetisers.
  • Pizzeria: serve up vegan pizzas with a variety of toppings, as well as calzones, garlic knots, and salads.
  • Street food: perfect for food trucks or stands, vegan street foods can include items like tacos, burritos, empanadas, and more.
  • Bakery: vegan bakeries can offer a wide variety of sweet and savoury treats, like cookies, cakes, pies, bread, and more.
  • Healthy breakfast bar: an easy vegan breakfast menu is a great way to start the day. Vegan breakfast ideas include vegan pancakes, tofu scramble, chia seed breakfast bowls and avocado toast.

Ultimately, the type of food you'll be serving should be reflected in your vegan restaurant's name ideas; Thrive Guys, Vedge and The Herbivore Kitchen are all good options.

How to start a vegan food business

If you're thinking about starting a vegan food business, there are a few standard steps you can follow to help ensure your success:

Research

First, it's important to do your research and make sure there is a demand for vegan-friendly options in your area. This can be done by surveying potential customers or conducting market research.

Plan based

Once you've got your concept down, the next step is to develop a business plan. This should include information on your target market, your restaurant’s concept, your competition, your marketing strategy, and your financial projections.

Location

If you're not going to be a mobile vegan food business, another important consideration is finding the right location, considering aspects like foot traffic, parking, and building regulations. This process may also involve renovating a kitchen, outfitting a food truck, or leasing commercial space.

Legalities

You'll also need to secure the necessary licences and permits to operate your business. These could be anything from a food handler's permit to a liquor licence, depending on the type of business you're running.

Menu

Next, you'll need to create a menu that appeals to both vegans and non-vegans alike. Be sure to offer a variety of options that are both healthy and delicious.

With Epos Now's award-winning point of sale software, you can easily create QR code menus for your vegan restaurant, so your customers can browse and order at their leisure.

Source ingredients

For a vegan food business, sourcing vegan-friendly ingredients like plant-based proteins, dairy-free cheese, and wholly organic produce is a must.

It may require some extensive research to find companies that specialise in vegan-friendly items, so dedicate some time to finding suppliers that can provide you with the ingredients and products you need.

Staff

Once your business is up and running, you'll need to hire staff members who are passionate about veganism and providing great customer service. You can post job listings on vegan-friendly job boards or online communities.

Promote

Veganism is still a niche market, so you'll need to market your business accordingly. This could involve things like creating a strong social media presence, partnering with local vegan organisations, or running marketing campaigns. 

Push healthy profit margins with a powerful POS system

These vegan business ideas should give you some inspiration to get started. Once your restaurant is up and running, one of the first things you’ll need to do is install a point of sale (POS) system. POS systems are centralised business tools that allow you to run all aspects of your restaurant from one place. 

Epos Now is a multi-award-winning POS company loved by vegan businesses worldwide. Epos Now’s App Store hosts over 100 integrations, allowing you to customise your service to exactly how you want it. You can also:

  • Review profitability reports based on individual item performance, trending dishes, best and worst sellers, and employee sales.
  • Access multi-award-winning inventory management systems that sync online orders with in-house orders. 
  • Install table management and booking system integrations available for optimised service.

If you think there's any more vegan do to help you get your plant-based business off the ground, we'd love to hear from you!

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