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Abstaining from meat is no longer just a trend in the Philippines. Data shows that vegetarianism is becoming more mainstream, with about 6% of the Gen Z and Millennial population already vegetarians. These days, vegetarianism is becoming more mainstream. But the challenge faced by local food establishments? Playing catch-up and optimizing offerings to ride the wave. Are you a business looking to capitalize on this demand? First, learn what vegetarianism is. Here are the basics to help you differentiate between vegan vs. vegetarian diets and improve your menu.

Vegetarianism: What is it?

Fish, seafood, vegetables, nuts, eggs, and fruits on a slate gray countertop.

Vegetarianism is the practice of eliminating meat from a person's diet. Individuals who choose the vegetarian lifestyle abstain from meat, poultry, seafood, insects, or animal by-products.

To date, India holds the title with the most number of vegetarians at 31% of their population. The Philippines, with its slowly increasing number of vegetarians, sits in 3rd place. Due to varying motivations for adopting a plant-based diet, different types of vegetarianism exist to cater to specific needs. The most common subtypes are lacto-ovo, lacto, ovo, and vegan.

Common subtypes of vegetarians

Vegetarian diets differ based on personal preferences and dietary requirements. Entrepreneurs considering opening a vegan restaurant benefit from knowing these categories.

  • Lacto-ovo (ovo-lacto) vegetarians consume dairy and eggs but remain meat-free. For example, you can serve vegetarians on a lacto-ovo diet cheesy quesadillas with plant-based meat.
  • Lacto vegetarians enjoy dairy products along with plant-based alternatives. This vegetable cottage pie contains all the requirements needed by lacto vegetarians.
  • Ovo vegetarians avoid animal products but retain eggs in their diet. A simple meatless tortang talong ensures this type of vegetarian doesn’t miss out on proteins.
  • Vegans abstain from animal meat and animal-based products altogether. Make a burrito recipe completely vegan by switching to plant-based meat and an animal-free dressing. Try the tangy and smoky combination of Hellmann’s Charred Tomato and Capers Dressing.

The Basics of Veganism

Various leafy green vegetables, fruits, seeds, and beans on a wooden tray

Worldwide, 15% of the population eats plant-based. In the Philippines, the numbers are rising, with 5% of Filipinos leading a vegan lifestyle. But what sets veganism apart from the other subtypes? Veganism is the most recognized among the subtypes under the vegetarianism umbrella. In dietary terms, it is also the strictest form. Individuals who observe vegan regulations prepare and consume plant-based food only. Vegans refrain from consuming products obtained from animals, whereas vegetarians tend to be more flexible.

Some primary examples of animal products excluded from the vegan diet are:

  • dairy
  • eggs
  • honey
  • yogurt
  • cheese
  • butter
  • mayonnaise

Why should you include vegan dishes in your menu?

Despite the growing demand for vegan and vegetarian food, some restaurateurs are slow to jump on the bandwagon. It’s time to make the switch! These are the top reasons business owners should fast-track the process of innovating their menu.

  • Provide options for diners with dietary restrictions, allergens, and illnesses.
  • Grow your consumer base by catering to plant-based diners.
  • Support sustainability of resources and ingredients since meatless diets produce fewer greenhouse gasses.
  • Boost overall sales by providing fresh menu items to regulars and new restaurant guests.
  • Offer innovative dishes with consistent flavor and quality, like when using products from The Vegetarian Butcher.
  • Decrease procurement expenses in the long run, especially when purchasing from reliable suppliers.

Is veganism just about food?

Besides dietary restrictions, vegans oppose animal commodities like silk, leather, wool, and fur. Because of this, establishments must reconsider using animal hide, tusks, shells, and other similar ornamental items. To attract a strictly vegan clientele, redecorate with cruelty-free and sustainable items.

Alternative Diets

: Various food items, including eggs, dairy, fish, legumes, meat, nuts, and poultry on a table

Eliminating meat from your diet isn’t for everyone. As a compromise, some health-conscious individuals lean on food programs that aren’t as stringent. Here are three alternatives that restaurateurs should also know.


The flexitarian diet encourages individuals to maintain a mostly plant-based diet. However, unlike vegetarians or vegans, flexitarians occasionally consume meat and animal products. As such, they can also be called semi-vegetarians. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the Philippines ranks highest in flexitarian interest in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.


Pescatarians are individuals who abstain from eating red meat or poultry. Their diet is a combination of vegetables, fish, and seafood. Because of similarities in nutritional requirements, the pescatarian diet is often associated with the Mediterranean diet.


Chicken and other kinds of poultry are the chosen protein in this plant-optimized diet. Eggs and dairy are also allowed. Peking duck crepe is an example of a dish you can offer to pollotarians. Serve it with a spicy dipping sauce like Hellmann’s Smoked Chili Dressing.

Revamping a Menu With Vegetarian Dishes

A restaurant customer looking through a menu.

In the past, adding vegetarian items to a menu involved unappetizing meat alternatives. But innovation and widespread interest in plant-based options resulted in nutrient-dense and flavorsome options. Follow these tips to incorporate vegetarian food into your menu.

1. Keep offerings familiar.

Sticking to familiar flavors and food preparation techniques resonates best with consumers. Before introducing novel dishes, offer meatless alternatives to menu favorites. For example, you can make sisig with The Vegetarian Butcher No Chicken Chunks.

2. Highlight full-bodied flavors.

Reassure consumers that healthy doesn’t equate to bland and boring. Present restaurant guests with meals that are nutritious yet full of flavor. Consider upgrading fresh poke bowls with an umami-rich product like Hellmann’s Miso Ponzu Dressing.

3. Give a positive spin on campaigns.

Promote what the dish offers, not what it lacks. Instead of mentioning it has “less meat,” spotlight “plant-powered proteins” or “healthy carbohydrates.” Remember, a buzz phrase like “high fiber” garners more interest than “low sugar” or “low fat.” Implement this positive marketing approach in menus, tabletop ads, and social media campaigns.

4. Price dishes competitively.

Although plant-based menu items cost more, many consumers are willing to pay for their benefits. Offer competitive pricing to eliminate the barrier between meat products and vegetarian menu items. Learn proper costing to keep up with competitors.

5. Offer free samples.

Let vegetarians and non-vegetarians taste new offerings with free samples. Consider providing customers with amuse-bouche or appetizer-sized servings of your chef’s latest creations. Delectable bites of saucy plant-powered meatballs or mini “chicken” sliders can help encourage restaurant visitors to place full orders.

Targeting the vegetarian market in the Philippines is highly lucrative for food establishments. Rather than a complete menu overhaul, optimizing it to include meat-free choices is encouraged. Ensure the success of the integration by arming yourself with the necessary information.

Learning the distinction between vegan vs. vegetarian food allows you to cater to your customers' exacting needs. Get ahead of the game and sharpen your menu planning skills through this complete guide.

For more ideas and inspiration, download our Free Knorr Professional Healthy Cookbook to get the latest tips on and inspiration for nutritious dishes to add in your food business!