If you’re considering starting a vegan restaurant you will need to think carefully about who your ideal customer is and who isn’t. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone who is vegan is interested in always eating in a vegan restaurant. On the other hand, those who are not vegans may want to eat vegan food once in a while and will come to your restaurant for that reason alone.

This means your target market may not be restricted to vegans and, for that matter, may not include all vegans either.

So, you really want to make sure you understand the target market for a vegan restaurant in your neighborhood or at least within driving distance of your restaurant before launching your business.

In this article, we will analyze the target market for a vegan restaurant by studying the reasons why someone might want to go to a vegan restaurant as opposed to a steakhouse or even a vegetarian restaurant. 

Target Market for a Vegan Restaurant
(Image Source)

Vegan Restaurants Vs Regular Restaurants

Vegan restaurants target a different market than regular restaurants. Vegans are people who do not eat any animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy. Therefore, vegan restaurants serve only plant-based foods. This limits the menu options and can make it difficult to attract customers who are not vegan.

Regular restaurants typically serve a wider variety of food, including meat and animal products. They, therefore, have a larger customer base, as not everyone is vegan.

Also, regular restaurants can steal customers from vegan restaurants by offering vegan options on their menus. This can be attractive for groups of people going out to eat where someone’s vegan and someone’s not. Think of a family where some family members are vegan and others are not. How will they pick a restaurant? Naturally, they will prefer a regular restaurant that also offers vegan options.

This makes it difficult for vegan restaurants to compete with regular restaurants.

However, all is not lost. There are people who prefer to go to restaurants that serve only vegan food. Maybe they do not like the sight of meat being served at the table next to them or they simply want to support a local vegan restaurant. Either way, as a vegan restaurant, this is the ideal customer you want to market to.

Vegan Restaurants Vs Vegetarian Restaurants

Now it gets difficult.

Many people who want to give up meat, either for health reasons, for ethical reasons, or for any other reason, will become vegetarians. Not vegan. Vegetarians. This distinction is important because vegetarians are comfortable eating dairy and eggs.

So a vegetarian restaurant can be a very strong competitor to a vegan restaurant as a large number of people, including vegans, would be comfortable going to a vegetarian restaurant.

Most vegetarian restaurants also offer vegan options and now vegans can eat knowing there is no risk of someone ordering meat at the adjacent table.

Segmentation of the Target Market for a Vegan Restaurant

And that brings us to the topic of this article – understanding the target market for a vegan restaurant.

So who are these people who shun not only regular restaurants with meat on the menu but also vegetarian restaurants?

We’ll answer this question by understanding people’s motivations to visit a vegan restaurant.

So, who goes to a vegan restaurant? Here are the top categories of people who do:

  1. Vegans who prefer to eat in vegan restaurants
  2. Vegetarians who will occasionally eat vegan food
  3. People who are allergic to meat or meat by-products.
  4. People interested in healthy eating
  5. People who care about the welfare of animals

Let’s understand each of these segments a bit more.

1. Vegans who prefer to eat in vegan restaurants

As we saw in the previous section, many vegans will be comfortable going to regular restaurants as long as they can be assured of being able to order vegan food for themselves. They don’t mind seeing other people eat meat. A common scenario is when you have meat-eaters and vegans in the same family.

Many other vegans are even more comfortable going to vegetarian restaurants because they are sure to find vegan options and they can be certain there is no risk of any accidental meat in their food.

But some vegans really do not like going to restaurants that serve meat or any animal-based product. Such vegans will seek out vegan restaurants and stick to them. As a vegan restaurant owner, this will be your core client base.

2. Vegetarians who will occasionally eat vegan food

Many vegetarians do not wish to completely give up dairy products or eggs. Either they like cheese too much or they feel the health benefits of eating eggs make up for not eating meat.

But when they get the chance to go “full vegan”, they do. And this is the time they will go to a vegan restaurant instead of a vegetarian one.

Vegetarians can be a great target market for a vegan restaurant, as they tend to look for opportunities to gently dip their toes in the vegan world from time to time. And this means going to a vegan restaurant where there can be no temptation of a yogurt-based dessert or a cheese course.

3. People who are allergic to meat or meat by-products.

People who are allergic to some types of meat or meat by-products face a bit of a dilemma. They cannot eat at regular restaurants without risking an allergic reaction and they cannot always find vegan food that they like when they are out in a regular restaurant.

This is where a vegan restaurant becomes the perfect option. People with allergies can be sure that there will be no risk of cross-contamination and they can order their food with confidence.

Note that not everyone allergic to meat automatically becomes vegan. Some people cannot eat some kinds of meat and might be open to eating other meats when at home. However, when they go out to eat, the safest option is a vegan restaurant.

4. People interested in healthy eating

For some people, going vegan is about the health benefits. They have read about how a plant-based diet can help with everything from weight loss to reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

When at home these people might eat some lean meat or the occasional piece of cheese. But when eating out they cannot control the amount of oil or butter in a restaurant or the amount of fat in the meat.

In such cases, the safest option is to go to a vegan restaurant where they can be certain their food will be prepared in a healthy way.

A growing trend is to combine fine dining experiences with vegan food. This includes having vegan wine and vegan (non-dairy) deserts. In fact, a large portion of the market for fine dining can be attracted to vegan food for its health benefits.

5. People who care about the welfare of animals

There are different reasons why someone becomes vegan. But one common reason is that most vegans care about the welfare of animals. Such people can, of course, eat vegan food at home. They can also eat vegan food in a regular restaurant or a vegetarian restaurant.

But with them, it’s a point of principle. They don’t want to support an industry that harms animals. For them, the best option is to go to a vegan restaurant where they know no animals were harmed in the making of their food.

So, these people will go to vegan restaurants not only because they want to eat healthy food or because they are vegan but also because they want to support a business that is aligned with their values.


To understand the target market for a vegan restaurant, you must first understand the key differences between a vegan restaurant and a regular restaurant that has meat on the menu as well as between a vegan restaurant and a vegetarian restaurant.

Remember that vegans can get vegan food in both regular restaurants as well as vegetarian restaurants. This makes for formidable competition to a vegan restaurant.

And so as a vegan restaurant owner, you must understand the true motivations that make someone choose a vegan restaurant over any other type of restaurant. By understanding your ideal customer’s motivations for going to a vegan restaurant, you can craft marketing messages that appeal to the segment of the target market for a vegan restaurant that you plan to address.