Why Restaurants are reluctant to increase veggie options ?
"A recent study by University of Cambridge scientists finds that increasing vegetarian options on menus reduces orders of meat dishes by 40 to 80%. This piece of research presents a new solution to encourage more plant-based eating amongst omnivores or flexitarians, a much-needed shift if we are to combat our planetary climate and health crisis."
Based on this research, I interviewed few local restaurants like this one (photographed menu) and asked if they would consider increasing vegetarian options on menus.
The answers are quite interesting :
1) I don't mind if it is going to attract more customers, but you know, most of our customers are meat-lovers
2) I don't want to label my menu with "green" "vegetarian" or "vegan" because it means if something goes wrong, such as if a western vegan expects pesto with garlic whereas a Chinese vegan expects pesto with cheese but without garlic, I will get into problems. I can't accommodate different kinds of vegan or vegetarian, I don't understand what they want or don't want.
3) It depends on our chef, if our chef doesn't want to cater to different kinds of vegetarian or vegan needs (sometimes includes separating the cooking utensils from preparing meat vs vegetables), we can't shout out loud on our menu that certain menu is vegetarian or vegan even if they are. We will get into troubles if customer finds traces of meat in the dish. So, we don't want to label any of our dishes.
4) Impossible Meat and Omni Pork is just a hype, we don't want to get into it.
If you look carefully at the menu, the top right 2 menus are marked Vegan. It also mentions it is with Garlic. So it is obvious their main customers are Chinese vegan and so they don't want to intimidate them by not mentioning there is garlic.
Despite of all the reluctance & difficulties mentioned above, they are willing to change as they know it is good for the environment in general. It is more realistic for regular restaurants to increase more plant-based option than expecting more vegan restaurants to suddenly pop up. It is our wish to help these restaurants to increase their plant-based option and let's be more patient when they are not quite ready.