Veganism has taken root in cities around the world, both as a respected cuisine option and as a market. The number of vegans has nearly quadrupled in the past decade. This means there are ways to contribute to spreading the ideal of humane food while turning a profit. Perhaps inconveniently, vegan food needs to be sustainable in the marketplace before it can help us make our civilization sustainable on the planet. There are, fortunately, a few tips to help the prospective vegan entrepreneur succeed.
Rather than assuming the steep price and significant risk of having one's own restaurant, it might be better to begin with a mobile food service. Any cuisine can be offered from a mobile provider, but there is something about the idea that seems to fit a vegan ethos even better than most. There are options in how one might approach mobility, one less expensive than the last. First, there's the converted trailer or bus, which is still significantly less expensive than a brick and mortar restaurant.
Then there are the food truck, food cart, and food bike options. Each progressively smaller option comes with its own peculiar strengths. Beyond inexpensiveness, they all share the advantage of allowing you to have a more limited and focused menu than might be expected of a restaurant or even a converted trailer. They share the advantage of allowing you to go to where the customers are. The best promotion for a food vendor, after all, is a sandwich, not a flyer. They also share the common liability of no longer allowing you to keep all of your storage, kitchen, and prep space under one roof.
Anyone interested in being a vegan chef should become familiar with world cuisine generally, but particularly those cuisines from countries with a lot of vegetarians. Most notable are Indian and various Eastern cuisines. For obvious reasons, a lot of a vegan chef's clientele will be comfortable with Indian or Vietnamese dishes, even if few are actually native to them. Achieving customer satisfaction might mean you carry a curry dishes or offer tahini sauce as a condiment.
Remember, with a world to choose from, explore what it has to offer! How do West Africans get the very most out of a yam? What do North American First Peoples do with corn, besides calling it maize? The planet is a constant source of inspiration, and it's a constant source of clientele-building small talk, too. Serve a bowl of red beans stewed slowly in coconut milk or maharage, and you'll have a lot more than "Mm-mm! Isn't that good?" to talk about. You'll have Zanzibar.
Substitute: It Makes the Familiar Thing Better
Admittedly, there is a certain "insider's club" club quality to being vegan that is its own appeal. But the budding restaurateur had better plan to broaden his or her appeal beyond that pool of potential customers that are already vegan. Remember that this pool isn't all a bunch of meat-splattered, committed carnivores. It includes the lactose intolerant, those with high blood pressure or cholesterol, folks simply cutting back on meat, and, of course, it includes vegetarians.
Many of these people are going to want a good burger or pizza, vegan or not. Being able to provide these familiar comfort foods is all about knowing what to substitute for animal products. It might be an affront to our sensibilities to admit this, but among your offerings ought to be several choices meant to taste as little like vegan fare as possible. Your customers don't just come solo, but as couples, families, and other groups, and that one true vegan among them might appreciate your being able to feed little Joey a burger.