Plant-based restaurant chain, Veggie Grill, has been serving up delicious, healthy, and sustainable vegan food for the last ten years now. Launched in 2006, Veggie Grill prides itself in providing customers with inventive ways to include whole foods and fresh vegetables in their diets – and people are gobbling it up by the bowl. Considering 70-80 percent of Veggie Grill’s clientele are not even vegan, let alone vegetarian, Veggie Grill appeals to more than a just niche market.

Recent studies have shown that around one-third of Americans are choosing to leave meat off their plates more frequently and a 2015 survey by market analyst Mintel found that 61 percent of consumers say they enjoy menu items that heavily feature vegetables. The rise of health-conscious eaters who are choosing to eat less meat more often is the driving force behind Veggie Grill’s success.

“We get people who just want to eat in the better-for-you space. This is a theme in America, now, I think,” said Greg Dollarhyde, Veggie Grill’s California-based chain’s “Chief Energizing Officer,” in an interview with Nation’s Restaurant News. This growing sector in the population led Veggie Grill to expand and establish 29 locations, from California to Washington and Oregon as well. Now the chain is set out to redefine fast food in major cities outside of the West Coast.

Dollarhyde explained that the company is working on real estate, looking to expand into new areas.  Some of their prospective targeted markets include Dallas, Chicago, Denver, Atlanta, Miami, and the District of Columbia. They’re not just looking to open up Veggie Grills in popular cities where vegans may have other options. Instead, they’re looking to strategically place themselves in locations where those looking for healthy food may have a difficult time finding it. This includes urban locations like healthcare facilities, airports, and college campuses.

The chain has not grown in popularity largely due to amazing veggie burgers, or mock meats that perfectly emulate steak or chicken. In actuality, customers have been flocking to their eateries, in search of hearty, nutrition-dense meals, that fuse together the fun experience of eating out, without the gnawing guilt of overindulgence afterwards.

“We call these people who are putting veggies at the center of the plates and celebrate this kind of eating as ‘veggie positive.’ Research we’ve done shows there are millions and millions of veggie positive adults in the U.S.” shared Dollarhyde. Veggie Grill sets itself apart in a fast-food saturated community by catering to these “veggie positive” adults, not only with what their menu includes, but what they leave out, such as preservatives, excess salt, and trans fats.

“As Americans learn more about how food is directly tied to our health and well-being, as well as the health of the planet, they are seeking better options, namely less meat, and more plant-based foods,” said Nil Zacharias, Co-Founder of One Green Planet. “This explains the rise of meatless and dairy-free options in grocery stores, the proliferation of veggie options in fast food chains, as well as a growing interest in clean, plant-based sources of protein and vegan cooking. The demand is there across the country and now restaurant chains like Veggie Grill are finally here to meet it.”

Looking back at the last decade of Veggie Grill’s success, we don’t think the chain’s growth will be slowing down any time soon. With more consumers, driven by both health and environmental reasons, deciding to eat plant-based at least a few times a week, if not more, Veggie Grill’s customer market is constantly expanding. Now the question is: can they create enough new bowls to keep up with demand?

Image Source: Veggie Grill/Facebook