Guest post care of Jackie Edwards

Delicious and nutritious plant-based meals are taking Canada by storm and to respond to the boom, there are now 232 restaurants that serve vegan-friendly cuisine in Ottawa alone. To keep up with what restaurateurs are calling a food renaissance, many of the 5,041 restaurants and caterers in Canada have embraced the trend, too. In 2015, approximately 12% of young Canadian consumers said that they are vegetarian or mostly vegetarian but this is just the tip of the iceberg, according to CityNews because more meat eaters are now transitioning to a plant-based diet.

An upward trend

Dalhousie University professor Dr. Sylvain Charlebois found that 2.3% of the country’s population are vegan while 7.1% are vegetarians. According to Charlebois, the 3.4 million vegan and vegetarian population will see stable growth in the coming decades as Canadians become more health conscious. Cities such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver have been seeing an upward trend when it comes to new vegan restaurants and catering services.  However, what truly signifies the shift is the fact that major restaurant brands such as Panera Bread, Olive Garden, and Chipotle now offer vegan catering. As veganism becomes more mainstream, the boom will be leading the Canadian restaurant industry to a new path. It is also expected that more chefs will specialize in vegan food in the coming years. People are now more curious about veganism, according to Eva Lampert, the director of vegan operations at 5700 Inc. noting that the demand for vegan food in Canada is seeing an all-time high.

A shift in the market

The vegan market is here to stay, according to a Forbes report in 2017. Restaurants and caterers are getting much-needed support as brands venture into plant-based products. Forbes notes that Canada’s largest dairy processor, Saputo, has been looking to buy a plant-based milk producer to add vegan dairy to their products. Saputo is not alone. Maple Foods acquired Field Roast and Lightlife Foods for a total of $260 million in early 2018. The government is seeing this shift to vegetarian food as well. According to CTV News Canada, a federal program will be investing $150 million to the plant-based food industry in the coming years and the appropriation will go to the development of new protein-rich crops.

With the vegan market’s projected growth and the government’s involvement in addressing said growth, Canada’s future dining will move towards serving sustainable and healthier fare.