healthy choices

How menus are addressing diner demand for healthier choices

Diners continue to look for healthier alternatives as they visit restaurants, and menus are evolving to meet that growing demand. Including healthier choices and trendy dishes is just the start, though. It’s not just about menu features, it’s also about the language you use.

Trends come and go, and language changes to reflect what customers are looking for on the menu. Consumer preferences are being represented more and more on menus, with “vegan” and “no-sugar” becoming the fastest-growing claims (up 11 per cent), and “lighter fare,” “dairy-free,” and “keto” claims all up 8 per cent.

As healthy lifestyles continue to dominate diets, the terms “reductarian” and “flexitarian” are the newest buzzwords. Rather than taking an extreme approach (with veganism or vegetarianism), these diners are looking to boost the health benefits of their diet by simply cutting back on meat consumption.

Research shows that one in four people are flexitarians who eat mostly plant-based, consuming meat only once in a while. These consumers are not looking for pre-packaged plant-based alternatives, it’s focusing on older plant proteins like tempeh that gets their attention. The idea is that rather than making plant-based look and taste like traditional dishes, try to use using plants and alternate proteins to create delicious new dishes.

RELATED: Restaurant menus reflect consumer demand for protein and protein alternatives

Make these items easy to find on your menu. If your customers can’t find them, they won’t order them. Consider using a symbol for easy reference, having your servers demonstrate where they are located on your menu, or creating a separate menu featuring healthier dishes. The way you present these items on your menu can greatly affect the number of dishes you sell and how your restaurant is perceived.

Keep your online menu in mind, too. Often diners with restrictions or preferences will check out your menu before making a reservation. Making these healthier distinctions clear and simple to find, along with including a few mouth-watering photos can encourage online visitors to come through your doors. 

Featuring menu descriptions using the right language is key to connecting with your customers. Offering dishes that support their healthy initiatives and using language they can relate to makes it easier for guests to choose from your menu and encourages them to visit you again.