Plant-Based Menu Items and Your Operation Plant-based. Meat alternative. Vegan friendly. These terms are no longer just associated with specialized restaurants that cater to patrons with specific diets. New vegetarian menu options are rolling out at QSR and fast casual chains around the country, offering customers that do not eat meat — and those interested in trying a plant-based option — greater choices. Products from companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods and other innovative plant-based options continue to permeate menus, as chains strive to keep up with the trend — and one another. Operational considerations for meat alternatives Implementation of this menu trend takes more than simply purchasing the product and developing a recipe; there are operational considerations as well. Even if the menu item is described as plant-based, as opposed to vegan or vegetarian, there is still a consumer expectation that the product has not come in contact with meat. This assumption means the cooking surface, utensils and other tools used to cook the product should be separate from those used for meat. Additionally, employees need to be trained to properly handle the product and avoid cross-contamination. Product solution for avoiding cross-contamination In a recent Forbes article, however, the author comments that “until plant-based meat becomes a bigger part of regular restaurant menus and demand is proven to be long-lasting, it’s not practical to require restaurants to install separate grills.” Limited space means that operators must find an alternative cooking method that will fit into the available footprint. One equipment option is the Antunes Egg Station Mini (ESM). The ESM’s heated platens enable operators to cook plant-based burgers on demand without requiring a separate grill. This compact, ventless unit requires very little additional space in the kitchen. Also, the 120V / 15A cord plugs into basic electrical outlets for easy movement to any countertop space. The versatile Egg Station can also be used to cook plant-based menu items for breakfast, such as vegetarian sausage, tofu scrambles or dishes made with egg alternatives, such as JUST egg. The plant-based category is an exciting growth opportunity for chains looking to expand their menu offerings and reach potential new customers, but it does take a mindful approach to operational implementation. Consider adding an Antunes Egg Station to your operation to alleviate cross-contamination, save space and improve efficiencies. Learn more about the versatility of the Egg Station and other Antunes products in this article — The Value of Versatility: Getting the Most Out of Your Equipment.