Retail Foodservice

Carve Out Room on the Holiday Menu for Vegan, Vegetarian Guests

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It’s beginning to look a lot like entertaining season, with Thanksgiving approaching and Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve not far behind. Those preparing holiday repasts for extended family and friends are increasingly accommodating their menus for vegans and vegetarians who might want a little something else besides a turkey- or roast beef-free meal.

“For Thanksgiving, it’s great that stores are offering more things, because that is typically when families get together. In the past, a vegan may only have had the option of bringing something vegan to family gatherings, but now the person hosting it can go out to the grocery store and get vegan items to make them feel welcome,” notes Anne Dinshah, VP of the American Vegan Society.

To Dinshah's point, consumers can buy vegan and vegetarian items at their local supermarket, including prepared meals that can be ordered ahead of time or picked up at a foodservice area within a store. More stores have added to their vegan offerings for the holidays, including Thanksgiving, she notes.

Some ShopRite stores in the Eastern region of the country, for example, have promoted Tofurky products, including Tofurky roasts, for Thanksgiving. Whole Foods has long offered recipes and serving suggestions for vegans and vegetarians, from advising on how to replace butter in side dishes to using coconut milk in place of cream in soups and purees.

This fall, Whole Foods is teaming up with Vedge restaurant in Philadelphia to create vegan holiday meals that can be ordered online. The meals, which include items like mustard-glazed cauliflower, lentil-mushroom stuffing and “cheesy” rutabaga and potato mash, will be part of Whole Foods’ hot food bars around the country on World Vegan Day on Nov. 1.

Whole Foods is also offering an incentive to shoppers to buy prepared vegan foods for holiday meals for themselves or for loved ones. Holiday orders placed between Nov. 1 and Nov. 6 will be sold at a discounted $5-off price.

Dinshah suggests that grocery operators let customers know that there are vegan-friendly holiday dishes and meals available for those either serving vegans and vegetarians or hosting all-vegan or all-vegetarian meals. “For a store, it would be very helpful to label something as vegan, especially at the holidays, because there are people who aren’t familiar with vegan foods and are trying to go out of their way and get something for their guests,” she explains.

Adding vegan foods isn’t just a gesture of hospitality to vegan guests, adds Dinshah. “It’s also a great way for everyone to try these items when there are people gathered together. Typically, vegan foods look appetizing, because they are very colorful, with a lot fruits and vegetables,” she points out.

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