Gastronomy & Food Service

2021 Is On Fire, But Are Restaurants Back? Here is What Many Restaurants Reported For The First Month

We are only six weeks into 2021 and the steam behind plant-based news, consumption and product launches is unparalleled.  To get an indicator of what the year has in store, Elysabeth Alfano asked businesses across the US to report on their YOY stats for Veganuary and their predictions for the rest of 2021.  

As a benchmark for Veganuary since its inception, Co-Founder of market research firm Moonshot Collaborative, Che Green, explains: “Over the past five years, Veganuary has been growing by leaps, not bounds, with an annual growth rate of almost 80% — from 23,000 sign-ups in 2016 to more than 400,000 in 2020. Research shows that many more people take part without signing up and that about half of participants continue their dietary changes after January.” 

©Moonshot Collaborative

According to the U.S. Director of Veganuary, 2021 had over 580,000 sign-ups.  Businesses across the United States also declared growth numbers, despite a pandemic.

Star Simmons, Co-Founder of vWire, the vegan newswire site, stated similar positive findings. “29% of our releases mentioned Veganuary, and all releases were from vegan companies.  We have received information that some companies carrying vegetarian products are now converting to all vegan.”

The restaurant world is where Veganuary plays the biggest role. “Combined same-store sales for Veganuary 2021 were up by 6.88% over 2020 even in the midst of the biggest market disruption of our lifetimes.  Obviously, we feel that a big part of this is due to the guest-experience that our team has been able to consistently deliver even under the most difficult of circumstances,” said Co-Founder and Co-CEO of California-based Plant Power Fast Food, Jeffrey Harris.



Harris adds, “But, there’s no doubt that the ever-increasing interest in plant-based food has been a huge factor as well.   We’re seeing more new guests every day, and while each has their own reason for exploring plant-based options, it seems to us that there’s a growing awareness of the impact that the consumption of animal products has on our health and the environment.   

“I also get the impression that more and more people are slowly coming to terms with the ethical dimension of all of this: Whether or not they’ll admit it, they’re thinking about the animals and they want a meal that is guilt-free on every level.   There’s an awakening going on across the board. 

Plant-based food is obviously the future,” he enthuses.

Per Andy Kalish, Co-Founder of Kalish and Sam and Gertie’s Vegan Jewish Deli in Chicago, their restaurants also fared well despite an on-going Covid-19. “It’s hard to compare year over year data from 2020 to 2021 in that there’s never been a year like 2020 or a January like 2021.  Despite the pandemic, election, insurrection and inauguration, Veganuary 2021 revenue held even with 2020. 

“Compared to many of the restaurants we consider contemporaries, that aren’t plant-based, we have been thriving. While we would’ve expected 15-18% growth over 2020 – all things considered – we’re genuinely bullish on the years ahead.” 

Marty's V Burger
©Marty’s V Burger

Kalyna De Angelo, Communications Director of Marty’s V Burger in New York concurred that Covid was a setback, but not a showstopper. “Month over month, we are up about 20-25% and our social media engagement is up 38%. As far as Veganuary 2021 over Veganuary 2020, well, Covid hurt us.”

However, certain items have been stand-out sellers. “Our best seller is our Original World-Famous Burger.  The new Chik’n Sandwich items have been doing great, as well! The new Chick’n line shows people they can get all the taste and mouthfeel they crave without harming animals”, said founder and owner, Marty Krutolow.

Overall, businesses are thankful for the extra marketing and awareness that Veganuary provides. “We’re grateful for the work Veganuary does.  We’re happy to be their partner and look forward to next January when restaurant dining returns, things improve worldwide, and vegan-options are even more widely available,” said Ken Spector, Director Happy Cow.

More detailed Veganuary numbers will be provided from the organization later this month.

Elysabeth Alfano is the founder of Plant-Powered Consulting, host of the Plantbased Business Hour and the Consulting Managing Director, vegconomist, North America.

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