Teen FAQs

There is a small local restaurant that offers vegetarian options that no one knows about. What can I do to let people know?

The simplest way to promote a restaurant is through word of mouth. Tell people about the restaurant's vegetarian options in conversation, text, email, blog, you name it- or more appropriately, say it. You can also create reviews on websites that feature vegetarian friendly restaurants, and even ones that don't. If you enjoy eating at the restaurant, bring people with you who haven't been there before. If you decide that more people simply MUST try the restaurant, sponsor a restaurant gathering with a local group/club that would be interested in having a vegetarian meal. Make sure that before you recommend this restaurant's great vegetarian options, that the items are truly vegetarian so that you don't mislead people. You should discuss the definitions of 'vegetarian' and 'vegan' with the owner, and offering to help them determine whether menu items are veg is a good idea too. You can find definitions at http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/vegan.htm, and ingredient information at http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/ingredientguide.htm. You might consider providing these links to the restaurant owner as well, as they may be a helpful resource to them in the future.

When you have determined that the restaurant's options are in fact vegetarian, you might suggest that they have a separate vegetarian menu made for those items. For people that already go to the restaurant but don't know the options, this is a great resource to have on hand so they can be aware of available vegetarian options.

When I first began eating at the Rice King in Provo, Utah, all I thought I could order was 'golden tofu' and 'curry tofu'. It wasn't until a few months later I finally realized that they offered soy meats and could make most dishes vegan by omitting the meat and adding soy protein. It was surprising to me that even though many vegetarians ate there, most of us only knew about a few options. After trying 'new' dishes and realizing that other people would probably like them, a friend and I suggested they create a vegetarian menu to hand out with their regular menu. Since the Rice King is a small business that does not have all the financial resources that larger businesses do, a friend and I ended up creating the menu for them. It might have not been the best looking menu, but it got the job done. According to the owner, sales of vegetarian food at Rice King increased by 25% after the veggie menu was developed. If you are in a similar situation with a small restaurant, here are some ideas on how to create a menu.

Creating a Vegetarian Menu

When you decide to work with a restaurant to create a vegetarian menu, be aware that a lot of work and dedication will be required. Also, make sure that the owners definitely want you to make the menu before you begin. When you first present the idea to the owners, assure them that there is not much to lose with making a menu, especially if you are the one making it. Even if the menu doesn't attract new vegetarian customers, it can help the existing ones and possibly increase sales with them.

  1. Communicate with the business owners to find out if they actually want you to make a menu for them. You don't want to go through the trouble if they end up not using it. If they agree to the menu, work with them to develop it. Ask questions like, "What items do you want featured on the menu?" and, "How would you like the menu to look?" Remember to ask "How will the menu be handed out?" since take-out menus are usually in different formats than menus inside restaurants. Be sure to clarify what items are vegetarian and vegan with the owners.
  2. Decide what you want the menu to look like. Keep it simple in the beginning so you can get a feel for what you're doing. You can always make it more complex later. Use the restaurant's previous menu for inspiration and try to follow its flow. If entrees come before desserts on the first menu, stick with that order on your menu.
  3. Stop talking about it and do it. If you know how to use Photoshop, or some other graphic editing software, this is a good way to test your skills. If not, here are a few methods you can follow:
    1. Use Word or a similar program.
      Experiment with different fonts and placements to see what looks good. Be creative and willing to spend time making the menu; Rome wasn't built in a day!
    2. DIY method (Cut & Paste).
      If you are NOT skilled in Word or other editing programs (many of us aren't), this method can be easier and deliver semi-professional results. Type all the information needed for the menu in Word and print it out. Cut out the words and paste them onto paper in a desired order. This copy can be scanned into a computer or photocopied to make duplicates. If your handwriting is nice, consider writing the menu content by hand.

Depending on what the restaurant owner wants, you can create anything from a fun and festive menu, to a more professional looking one. Don't be afraid to spend time trying things out. There are a lot of different scenarios you can run into with vegetarian friendly restaurants, so decide accordingly what to do for your situation.

If you do end up creating a vegetarian menu, consider passing it out at various locations (school) and events (veg gatherings), basically anywhere you can think of where people will want it. You never know who will find the menu useful and it doesn't hurt to try.

I hope this information is helpful! Good luck!

Written by Kristen Lambert during her internship at VRG