Adding vegetarian and vegan pizza and pasta to menu

Key points
  • Vegetarian and vegan options allows you to cater not only to customers following a meat-free diet but also those who want an occasional break from meat and/or dairy    
  • If you don’t include these options you can miss out on substantial business – for example if a party of 10 includes just one person wanting a vegetarian or vegan meal, you could lose the entire booking
  • While cheese is the key element that holds your pizza toppings together, today’s plant-based protein options include a ‘Notzarella’ cheese substitute made primarily from soybeans, enabling you to offer dairy-free pizzas as an option
  • Pizza and pasta businesses in Sydney and Melbourne are now offering such menu options alongside their regular meat and dairy-based pizza and pasta choices – in recognition of the importance of catering to this growing section of the market
  • The aim is not to change or replace your regular menu but rather to complement it with broader choice - without alienating your existing customer base               

AS THE POPULARITY OF PLANT-BASED PROTEINS continues to soar across both retail and foodservice, more and more businesses are looking to add vegetarian and vegan options to the menu – catering not only for diners who follow a totally meat-free diet, but also for those customers who want an occasional break from meat and/or dairy options.

It’s a smart move: these days, the lack of such menu choices can lead you to miss out on a substantial chunk of business. For example, you might have a party of 10 who want a table and only one of them is looking for a vegetarian or vegan meal. But if you don’t have a selection to choose from, it’s not just one customer you’re likely to lose – it’s all 10!

While most pizza and pasta menus will already have some vegetarian options (such as your standard vegetarian pizza and vegetable-based pasta dishes), it’s less likely you’ll have a vegan offer – as vegan food is free from all animal products, including eggs and cheese. And as we all know, cheese is the key element that holds your pizza toppings together.

But with so many plant-based proteins available today that substitute for beef, chicken and even fish without compromising on flavour or texture, it’s perhaps not surprising to learn that there’s even a ‘Notzarella’ cheese substitute made primarily from soybeans, which is dairy free and has been designed to look, shred, melt and taste like mozzarella.

At the Italian Bar Pizza in North Willoughby on Sydney’s north shore, they’ve added a couple of vegan pizzas to the menu: Porcini Patate, consisting of porcini mushrooms, potato, rosemary, garlic and Notzarella on tomato base and the Vegana (mushroom, zucchini, capsicum, olives and Notzarella). These sit alongside standard vegetarian and meat-based options like Pollo Pancetta (with oven-cooked chicken and pancetta), Diavola (with calabrese salami) and Cappricciosa (with dried pepperoni).

At Vapiano Pasta and Pizza in Melbourne[CS1] [KG2]  it’s a similar story: new vegan-friendly menu options such as Super Green Risotto (onion, garlic, basil pesto, baby spinach, zucchini and pine nuts with vegan non-dairy parmesan), Ravioli Rosso (zucchini, sundried tomato and basil ravioli with mixed onion, sundried tomatoes, parsley, rocket and vegan non-dairy parmesan), and a Verdure Vegan pizza with grilled eggplant, capsicum, zucchini and mushrooms with vegan mozz).

As we noted at the outset, these restaurants haven’t abandoned their regular meat and dairy-based menus: they’re still offering all the old favourites, pizza and pasta with plenty of meat, mozzarella and parmesan. But they recognise the importance of catering for a growing section of the market without alienating their existing customer base – a win-win situation for customers and business alike!