Steinberger &Ethen1Vegetarian Trend Trends Assessment University of Wisconsin StoutKyle Steinberger and Nate Ethen November 16, 2012
Steinberger &Ethen2 Section 1: The Seed of Vegetarianism When most people hear the word vegetarian their mindsthink of a hippy or a superhealth conscious eater. Although vegetarianism is commonly believed to have become catchyaround the 1960s, it actually wasn’t until the 1970’s that it began to rise.Its origins however arefrom a time before history was even recorded. Michaelbluejay.com writes, “Manyanthropologists believe that most early humans ate primarily plant foods, being more gatherersthan hunters.” (Bluejay) Moving into a time where history began being recorded, vegetarianismis thought to have become popular around Asia. The reason for this has a lot to do with religion,mainly Buddhism, where their belief in reincarnation (when they die their soul travels intoanimals, etc.) gives them a strong reason for not killing or consuming meat. With a sense of where vegetarianism began, let’s move way into the futureto the early1900swhen the United States meat consumption began to rise dramatically. This was caused bythe industrial revolution which provided the distribution and refrigeration of meat products tobe much easier. In 1971, Frances Moore Lappés bestseller Diet for a Small Planet waspublished providing the first spark in the vegetarianism trend in the U.S. Lappé was doingpersonal research on hunger issues when she discovered that it takes 14 times as much grain tofeed an animal than what that animal actually produces in meat, which she believed to be anenormous waste of resources. The website Michaelbluejay.com states a fact that says,“Livestock eat over 80% of the grain eaten in the U.S. If Americans cut their meat consumptionby just 10%, there would be enough grain to feed all the starving people in the world.” (Bluejay)This statistic is what the book focused on, and is what caused vegetarianism to begin beingpracticed in the U.S. One aspect that plays a big role in the growing of the vegetarianism trend today isunderstanding that America viewed vegetarianism much differently in 1971 than how they viewit today. The research and knowledge dealing with vegans and their health was extremely lowand it was even perceived that you couldn’t actually survive without meat. The people whobegan participating in vegetarianism weren’t doing it for health, but were doing it for worldhunger and peace, explaining why hippies are so often associated with being vegans. In the 80smyths were widely held about vegetarianism making it unpopular. In 1987 John Robbinspublished Diet for a New Americawhich wasn’t based off his own ideas, but instead combinedthe scattered information on veganism and put it into a book. By doing this he restarted thevegetarian movement and helped introduce the term “vegan” into the American vocabulary. When the 90s rolled around medical research provided overwhelming evidence thateating a vegan diet provided numerous health benefits. The American Dietetic Associationsupported vegan diets, and started a chain reaction to the creation of the food pyramid. Theacceptance of vegetarianism by both the medical and general public is at an all-time high, and isproviding a new trend in the restaurant industry. With obesity in America becoming a seriousproblem, and the medical knowledge we have of vegan diet’s is beginning to change the wayconsumers eat. The rise of vegetarianism could begin to have a large impact on manybusinesses, especially those such as McDonalds, which don’t provide healthy food. Also ourfarming and agricultural industry could begin to boom as slaughterhouses begin to shrink. As I
Steinberger &Ethen3said before, with the growing problems of obesity and diseases related to it, it has begun tochange how Americans think about the food their eating, and what it could possibly do to themin the long run. The restaurant industry has already begun to adjust to this trend by providingthings such as healthy restaurants all together, healthy menu items or sections, as well aslooking for chefs that can provide a healthy vegetarian menu item that would satisfy someonewho is not a vegetarian. With the rising knowledge of eating healthy, restaurants are nowbeginning to see that it’s not only vegetarianism on the rise, but the eating of healthy foodsthat is becoming the next big thing, and if you stay ahead of it, you can be extremely successful.The key is not to make a menu for vegetarians, but provide healthy vegetarian choices thatallow you to expand your potential market, as well as offer non-vegetarians the chance to eathealthier, which appears to be something that is going to grow exponentially in the near future. Section 2: A Trend in Action One case example that I was able to find is Veggie Grill, Veggie Grill is a restaurant thatserves vegetarian items to a wide range of people. The CEO, Greg Dollarhyde states, “theindustry has morphed a lot in the last seven to ten years based on how consumers arechanging. People are looking to eat lighter and cleaner.” He also says that “more people notonly care about how many calories they eat but also about what kind of calories they eat.” Inan interview that Greg was in, the interviewee asked him, do most of your guests fallow avegetarian diet or are they primarily vegan? Greg responded saying that only 10 to 15 percentof people who walk through their doors are actually vegan. And the other 85% of people arecarnivores or flexitarian. This is very shocking to hear that so many people are coming in to getvegetarian meals when they are not even vegetarian. Veggie Grill has seen a huge increase insales and they are very pleased with the change in eating habits of Americans. Greg said thatmost people think vegetarian meals are bland or boring, but at Veggie Grill they have masteredtheir recipes to keep their guests running back for more. Some things that I think Veggie Grilldid right, is marketed to a wide range of people, not just those who are vegan. I think that wasa smart move on their part to bring in a large range of diversity to their restaurant. One thingthat I think they could have done differently is expanding their operation to different areas ofthe United States. As of right now they have 10 locations, 8 of which are in southern Californiaand 2 that are in Portland. I think that if the owners of veggie burger really want this trend tobring them more business, they need to expand. As you can see there is a huge increase inpeople trying to eat green. This is why Kyle and I believe that if a restaurant were to market avegetarian section on their menus, it would help to bring in a new group of people. In Buenos Aires people go out for their thick juicy steaks, but recently they have becomeincreasingly vegetarian. Many people still do go out to the restaurants in Buenos Airesexpecting a perfectly prepared steak but in the recent years quite a few restaurants haveincorporated vegetarian menu items to help bring in business to their restaurant. Since theseestablishments have started creating vegetarian dishes, they have seen a lot more people goingout to eat and enjoying their vegetarian cuisine. This is a whole city wide trend that is going onit is shocking to see all sorts of restaurants changing their menu style just to gain a competitiveadvantage over the next.
Steinberger &Ethen4 One application that deals with vegetarianism not in the hospitality industry is the UNwarning the world that food shortages could force world into vegetarianism. According totriplepundit.com, “Cows, pigs, and chickens produce 5 tons of manure per person in NorthAmerica per year. As a consequence, the EPA estimates agriculture for 70% of the waterpollution in the U.S., much of it from concentrated animal feedlots (CAFO’s).” (Cooney) MalikFalkenmark stated in the report that, “there will not be enough water available on currentcroplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow currenttrends and changes towards diets common in western nations.” (Vidal) This is more of a globalapplication vs. a business, but it relates to vegetarianism because it shows how businesses andeverything else for that matter around the world are going to have to begin investing in thevegetarian trend. A second application not in the hospitality industry is the education industry. Vegetarianitems are being sold to people in every type of school from elementary to college levels. Theeducation of eating properly is being taught with much more importance for multiple reasons.The first being obesity and how it has begun to take over America, and secondly dealing withour economic problems just like what was stated in the first application dealing with the UN.Vegetarianism is by no means being pushed onto kids, but it is allowing them to educatethemselves on food and make their own eating decisions. The advancement in this degree ofthe education industry is providing a healthier generation and is also providing numerousbenefits to help our world’s economic resources stay abundant and clean. Section 3: Business Worthy I met with Mark Wessel the executive chef at Rush Creek Golf Course in Maple GroveMinnesota. While interviewing him I asked him several questions about how restaurants aretrying to bring a healthier and wider range of vegetarian options. One question I asked himwas, have you at all tried to incorporate vegetarian options into your menu? His response was,“yes, we have always had a few options on our menu, but this past season we have actuallycreated a section for vegetarian meals.” I then asked him how he has seen this trend growing,or if he thinks that having a vegetarian section on his menu is even worthwhile. Mark said thathis vegetarian meals have been a huge hit; in fact he actually said that it has brought in newclientele, mainly around lunch time. He said, “since we are a golf course, we do not get thatmuch outside business, but since he has added the vegetarian section to the menu, more andmore middle aged woman have been showing up for lunch to try out the new menu. Mark alsowent on to tell me how popular the vegetarian menu options actually are. The veggie taco,which is simply a taco shell, cream cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, corn, feta cheese, andtopped with cilantro. This item is the number one selling product that Rush Creek has, Mark isalso very pleased with this menu item because it doesn’t cost very much for the ingredients,Mark says that the vegetarian meals are real “money makers”. It is such a simple item, and it ishealthy. I actually had the pleasure of trying one for myself and I must say it was delicious.
Steinberger &Ethen5 When I asked my final question, do you think this trend is business worthy? Markreplied with, “I do think this trend is business worthy, it has worked to increase our lunch timerush drastically and I think if we continue to expand and make changes to the vegetariansection that more and more people will start seeing the benefits of eating healthier. I alsobelieve that any restaurant has the opportunity to hop on with this trend, several restaurants inthe Maple Grove area have already switched over to vegetarian menus to bring people in and Ican only imagine that more restaurants will start doing the same.” I agree with what MarkWessel has to say, I think that having more vegetarian items to your menu would increase thenumber of people coming into your restaurant. I also like how this trend is a money maker foryour business, with lower cost on preparing the menu item you can really turn around a profitand people will still pay for it. I think that this new trend is going to impact the restaurant industry drastically.According to vrg.org, vegetarian entrees and side dishes in 2001 was at $815 million dollars insales. Seven years later in 2008 the sales of vegetarian dishes is at 1.4 billion dollars and in2011 the sales reached 1.6 billion dollars. This is a huge increase and I expect it to continue togrow. Some potential changes that this trend can have is not stopping at having a vegetariansection. Adding more menu sections such as a glutton free section, I think that if restaurantsadded a glutton free menu section for people who are allergic. Glutton allergen is a verycommon allergy and I believe that if a restaurant added that to their menu I believe it wouldbring in a lot of people through the doors. I even asked Mark what he thought about thisaddition to a menu. He said that he could see it bringing in a group of people that might feel asince of respect that they created a section in the menu just for them to eat from. He also wenton to say that other than those people who are allergic to glutton products, no one else willprobably order those menu items. I think that making menu sections for specific groups ofpeople is a great way to market to them and bring in a greater amount of revenue. The way that restaurants can use this trend to keep a competitive advantage is simple,all they need to do is continue finding new vegetarian items to put in their menu, therestaurant will need a wide range of delicious vegetarian dishes to keep the customersinterested in coming back. Another way they can keep a competitive edge is by adding othermenu sections besides vegetarian, such as a glutton free section as a stated before. MarkWessel believed that a way you could stay ahead of the game is by creating a kids menu withvegetarian items. He said that he has been testing menu items for a while now but has onlyfound a few that he believed kids would actually consider ordering. He thinks that if you wereable to find enough items to put on the menu that it would help to bring in families. Accordingto, The Vegetarian Resource Group, more and more young kids have become vegetarians. This
Steinberger &Ethen6being the case Mark believes that it is something that is very necessary to bring in families,since we all know that the kids ultimately have the decision making powers.
Steinberger &Ethen7 Works CitedBluejay, Michael. "Vegetarian Guide." Vegetarian Guide. (1998): n. page. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/history.html>.Caryn Ginsberg. "Vegetarian Business."The Market for Vegetarian Foods.N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/market.htm>.Cooney, Scott. "TriplePundit." TriplePundit. (2009): n. page. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://www.triplepundit.com/2009/05/great-eco-stats-for-food-based-green-businesses-to- use-in-their-marketing/>.Jones-Mueller, Anita. "Veggie Grill CEO Greg Dollarhyde Talks Trends in Healthy Eating | Nations Restaurant News."Veggie Grill CEO Greg Dollarhyde Talks Trends in Healthy Eating | Nations Restaurant News.N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://nrn.com/article/veggie-grill-ceo-greg-dollarhyde-talks-trends-healthy- eating?ad=healthydining>.Martinez-Carter, Karina. "Restaurant Trend: Vegetarian-Friendly Eateries in Buenos Aires." Fodors.N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://www.fodors.com/news/story_5618.html>."Tips to Restaurant OwnersÂ ."Boston Vegetarian Society: Vegetarian Restaurants in Massachusetts. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://www.bostonveg.org/restaurants/ownertips.html>.Vidal, John. "The Guardian." Guardian. (2012): n. page. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/aug/26/food-shortages-world- vegetarianism>.Wessel, Mark. "Rush Creek Going Vegetarian."Personal interview. 10 Nov. 2012.