5 Vegetarian Proteins for Your Menu

Vegetarian Proteins for Your Menu

Posted: Jan. 29, 2018

Food trends reveal the emergence of a more thoughtful type of diner; a consumer that is more adventurous, expects a bang for every buck spent, and never compromises on quality. In kind, restaurants are rising to the occasion and serving unique recipes with exotic seasonings, locally-sourced ingredients, and surprising food combinations.

Food trends also show that today’s customer is vegetarian-leaning. (This refers to the latest dietary practice of a consumer that eats meat but opts for plant-based proteins more frequently than meat.) Some customers are omitting meat entirely, others are opting for meat-free days; in sum, there is a growing audience (predominantly made up of millennials) that chooses some level of vegetarian lifestyle.

Until this year, restaurants have been slow to adapt to vegetarian eaters. Not using meat products might be one of the greatest challenges the restaurant industry has had to take on, and in 2018, we will see more restaurants rising to the occasion.

Vegetarian menu items are no longer an option—they are a must-have for all restaurants, bars, and eateries.

The reason for the slow uptake might be that chefs and restaurant owners just don’t get what vegetarians want to eat. Since plant-based dining is the leading food trend in 2018, today, we are here to help you figure out what that means for your restaurant.

Vegetarian Dining Concerns

Having spoken with a group of seven vegetarians for today’s article, we’ve identified the major point of concern vegetarians have when dining out: Getting a balanced and nutritious meal.

At many restaurants, the vegetarian options are limited and usually devoid of proteins, minerals, or vitamins:

  • Some menus don’t have meat-free options, forcing vegetarians to request dishes without the meat.
  • When vegetarian options are presented, they are typically some type of lentils, grilled cheese sandwich, or salad.
  • Other times, the substitutes for meat are unappetizing.
  • Just as common (and frustrating), restaurants are hesitant to substitute meat for more vegetables without charging an additional fee.

Considering these restricted choices, it’s no wonder that vegetarians are craving more sophisticated and thought-out plates of food.

Add Creative Vegetarian Dishes to Your Restaurant Menu

Half the fun of dining out is to eat something you can’t make at home, but vegetarians often leave a restaurant wishing they had just cooked dinner themselves. See below for the most popular vegetarian proteins. You’ll know you’ve made a great dish when the meat-lovers want to try it too!

5 Vegetarian Proteins

Getting enough protein is a huge dietary concern for vegetarians. Make one of these vegetarian proteins the center of a dish:

  1. Tempe is a cake-like protein made from fermented soybeans. Originating from Indonesia, it’s easy to cook with, works well with different spice mixtures, and is packed full of protein—almost 30 grams per serving!   
  2. Quinoa might have started out as a fad, but it’s become a mainstay in the vegetarian culinary world. Not only is it gluten-free, quinoa delivers about 9 grams of protein per cup, and is as versatile to cook with as pasta or rice.
  3. Beans are incredible sources of protein, giving anywhere between 13 and 16 grams of protein per serving. If you choose to make beans the center of a dish, watch out that you don’t make a side dish. Vegetarians are looking for complete main dishes instead of eating vegetable side dishes alone.
  4. Sprouted grain bread turns an everyday vegetable sandwich into a vegetarian superstar dish. Vegan sprouted breads can have up to 10 grams of protein per serving.
  5. Dark green vegetables like spinach, kale, and green beans are easy vegetable dishes to add to your menu that deliver huge portions of protein. Stir-fry with garlic and soy sauce, and with a side of whole-grain rice for a quick vegetarian meal.

For a complete dish, here are three more important nutrients to consider:

  • Vitamin B12—Prepare dishes rich in dairy or eggs.
  • Iron—Satisfy this need with nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, and lentils.
  • Zinc—Increase zinc intake with squash, wheat germ, spinach, and dark chocolate. 

Talk with your kitchen team to think of nutritious and creative plant-based protein recipes. Don’t be surprised when one becomes your new signature dish!

Posted: Jan. 29, 2018 | Written By: Emma Alois

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