8 Ways to Market your Plant-Based Meal Options

Eating Plant-Based

Getting plant-based meal options on your menu is a great first step. Now it’s time to market those items and make sure everyone has a chance to try them out! Below are eight ways to market your plant-based dishes.

  1. Consider placement in the cafeteria line (make plant-based options easier to choose by putting them front and centre). 

  2. Make the default dish fully plant-based whenever possible in order to make it easier for people to choose plant-based meals, as opposed to the opposite where they need to know how to modify options to make them plant-based.

  3. Similarly, make “grab-and-go” options plant-based – this helps to make the plant-based choice the convenient choice, and also showcases what a complete plant-based dish can look like.

  4. Offer a promo/incentive on plant-based items when possible – a slight discount, punch card, draw for a gift card, etc.

  5. Consider offering a sampling of new plant-based items, to gain client feedback and help promote new items. (Contact VHS for help!)

  6. Make plant-based foods a part of your institution’s animal welfare/sustainability/health goals and share this with staff to help reinforce the social benefits of your effort to offer more plant-based foods. Helping staff understand the “why” will create more support. (Contact VHS for a staff presentation!)

  7. Don’t hide plant-based dishes in a separate section on your menu – make them a part of your regular menu. (eg. Beyond burgers are sold in grocery stores next to beef burgers and plant-based milks are sold next to dairy milk).

  8. Names and description of dishes are important:

  • Research suggests against labeling dishes as “vegetarian” or “vegan”, because it suggests those dishes are only for those who identify as veg or vegan. Instead, consider using a symbol (like a leaf) to indicate a dish is suitable for vegans.

  • Highlight the origin of a dish – Think Chicago-style pizza or Texas BBQ. Leveraging a food's origin is a powerful tactic to create positive associations with a product. eg. Instead of "Low Fat Vegetarian Black Bean Soup" choose "Cuban Black Bean Soup", or instead of “Meat-Free Breakfast” choose “Field Grown Breakfast”

  • Flavour-based naming – highlight what a dish will taste like to increase the sensory appeal of plant-based dishes. Eg. ‘Smoky Soul Chili', ‘Fiery Jerk Jackfruit’.

  • Use positive and indulgent descriptors:

    • Studies show that positive terms and narratives like “fresh”, “seasonal”, “farm to table”, “slow-roasted” are better received than language like “reduced calorie”, “lighter choice”.

    • Use indulgent terms like “creamy”, “warming”, “crunchy”, “smooth” and “sticky”.

Emily Pickett