Wagamama just made half of its menu plant-based.
The British high street chain, which carries Japanese-inspired food, reached the new milestone with the launch of four new vegan options: Spicy Teriyaki Vegan ‘Chicken’ Steamed Buns, Spicy Vegan ‘Short Rib’ Ramen, Teriyaki Vegan ‘Chicken’ Ramen, and Shu’s ‘Shiok’ Jackfruit.
The buns and the ramen feature Wagamama’s new vegan chicken protein, which has the same texture and taste of pulled chicken, according to the company. The short rib ramen features mushroom and soy, while the Shu’s Shiok contains turmeric and ginger roasted jackfruit.
The move to embrace veganism coincides with the company’s mission to combat the climate crisis. As part of its 2021 Positive Action Plan, announced earlier this year, the chain committed to making 50 percent of its menu vegan to lessen its environmental footprint and encourage omnivores to eat less meat.
The Asian fusion chain already boasted an extensive vegan menu. In 2020, Wagamama became the first major U.K. chain to serve vegan tuna. In celebration of Veganuary, an annual challenge occurring in January that promotes plant-based eating, the company launched a special vegan menu. New menu offerings included vegan sticky ribs and plant-based versions of the chain’s popular duck donburi and chili squid.
Why Wagamama and other restaurants are leaning into plants
On its website, the company noted that eating less meat and dairy is the “most essential action [one] can take to reduce carbon emissions.”
A 2018 study out of the University of Oxford found that a vegan diet can reduce a person’s carbon footprint by 73 percent. Researchers also found that a plant-based diet would reduce farmland use by 76 percent.
“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,” Wagamama’s CEO Thomas Heier said. “We hope our new menu will influence a positive spike in plant-based menu participation from our guests.”
Wagamama isn’t the only restaurant to embrace veganism. A number of other U.K.-based food chains are moving to include more plant-based offerings on their menus.
In 2019, sandwich shop chain Pret overhauled its menu for the first time in 33, introducing eight new vegan dishes and five vegetarian options. It also announced plans to buy out and convert its rival café chain, EAT, into Veggie Pret locations. The chain carries plant-based menu options including salads, sandwiches, and wraps.
The year prior, peri-peri chicken restaurant chain Nando’s revealed it would be adding more plant-based offerings to its menu in an effort to combat climate change.
“Over the last four years our sustainability initiatives have significantly reduced our carbon footprint,” Colin Hill, Nando’s CEO for the UK and Ireland, said. “But we are launching ambitious new commitments which will set a strong example for what our industry can do to make a genuine difference,” he continued.