Wagamama claims it is the first high street restaurant in the UK to give plant-based dishes equal share on its menu.
As part of its ‘2021 Positive Action Plan’, the chain pledged to make half its menu plant-based by the end of the year, but has met the commitment three months early after launching its new autumn menu.
Research has revealed that eating a plant-based diet could reduce the amount of land used for agriculture by 76% and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food by up to 49%.
Wagamama has achieved its 50% plant-based commitment after launching items such as spicy teriyaki vegan ‘chicken’ steamed buns, spicy vegan ‘short rib’ ramen, teriyaki vegan ‘chicken’ ramen, and shu’s ‘shiok’ jackfruit.
Global executive chef Steve Mangleshot and his team created the new vegan ‘chicken’ alternative which mirrors the taste and texture of pulled chicken in its steamed buns and teriyaki ramen.
Mushroom and soya ‘short ribs’ are the protein centrepiece for the spicy ‘short rib’ ramen, while turmeric and ginger roasted jackfruit substitute chicken in ‘Shu’s shiok’ – the dish that Mangleshot created in collaboration with chef Shu Han Lee.
CEO Thomas Heier said: “This menu launch marks an important moment for us as a business, as we officially make our menu 50% plant-based. We’ve been making choices, both big and small, to tread more lightly on our earth.
“We’re privileged to have restaurants in most major UK cities, therefore feel a real responsibility and exciting opportunity to make plant-based food as accessible as possible to all guests no matter their dietary preferences.
“We feel passionately that plant-based food can be just as nourishing and delicious. We hope our new menu will influence a positive spike in plant-based menu participation from our guests.”
Clare Oxborrow, senior sustainability analyst at Friends of the Earth, said that broadening menus so that plant-based food is the first option, or a desirable one, is a great step to take.
“The more people that realise that it isn’t a compromise, and that these dishes are tasty and flavour-packed, the more appetite there will be to widen menus even further.
“More establishments will see that this initiative from Wagamama is successful, and we encourage them to follow suit in making plant-based options both accessible and crucially, delicious.”
Ahead of the UN’s COP26 climate conference on 1 November, Wagamama is urging and incentivising guests to pledge a ‘small choice for big change’ as part of their ‘Plant-Pledge’ campaign.
In return for guests’ promise to plants, Wagamama is offering a vegan side for free until November to get them started on their plant-based journey.
Around 8,000 guests have made their pledge, with more expected to follow as the menu is rolled out across its restaurants.