Wagamama pledges 50% meat-free main menu by end of 2021

Wagamama has pledged that 50% of its main menu will be meat free by the end of 2021 as it's set to launch its most ambitious vegan dishes tomorrow with versions of its cult favourites.

The new Veganuary menu aims to nourish the nation with freshly made meat free alternatives including vegan chilli squid, delicious sticky ribs and No Duck Donburi which contains less than 650 calories.

And for this year’s Veganuary, the pan-Asian restaurant has kickstarted a campaign called ‘Small Choices, Big Change’ in response to growing climate concerns. The vegan diet has been identified as the ‘single biggest measure’ that can be taken by people to reduce their carbon emissions by up to 73% and this campaign will drive wagamama through 2021 and beyond.

Following a year that will leave a mark on all our lives, Veganuary 2021 is the beginning of Wagamama’s ‘Year of Change’ by their ‘Midori’ (meaning green in Japanese) team. wagamama’s new menu champions plant-based alternatives like never before and the ambition to make the main menu dishes meat free by the end of the year.

No strangers to vegan innovation, three years ago Wagamama introduced its vegan Katsu Curry – ‘Vegatsu’, followed a year later by a collaboration with vegan chef Gaz Oakley to create ‘Avant Gard’n’, which featured a vegan ‘egg’, and last year in January 2020 saw the launch of the ‘watermelon tuna’ dish.

The new 2021 Veganuary menu aims to entice even Wagamama's most set-in-their-ways meat-eating fans as it introduces plant-based versions of cult favourite dishes; Chilli Squid, sticky ribs, Firecracker Curry and Grilled Duck Donburi.

Its most popular side dish, Chilli Squid, sells more than 2.2 million a year, and this new version replaces crispy squid with shichimi-coated lightly battered king oyster mushrooms, with a tantalising dipping sauce of chilli and coriander.

The new No-Duck Donburi is made using shredded seitan and shiitake mushrooms coated in cherry hoisin sauce. It’s an alternative to fan-favourite Grilled Duck Donburi.

The second most popular curry to Chicken Katsu Curry, is the Firecracker Curry which has also been given the vegan treatment with tofu.

Alongside the new ‘sustainable swaps’, the group is launching new Vegan Sticky Ribs made from mushroom and soya protein.

The vegan Chilli Squid and No-Duck Donburi will only be available for dine-in with the Vegan Sticky Ribs, Tofu Firecracker and Tofu Raisukaree all available for dine-in, delivery and click 'n' collect.

Wagamama will launch ‘Vegan Verdict Challenge’ on TikTok with content creators asked to be the first to review and compare fan favourite meat dishes up against its new vegan counterparts. The personalities ‘Vegan Verdict’ hopes to influence non-vegan viewers to give new dishes a go.

CEO Emma Woods said, “We believe that vegan choices should be so delicious that everyone should want to include in their lives, whether a strict vegan or someone who has never thought of themselves as a vegan before. As Covid causes us all to press pause on so many things, let’s make sure we fast forward the small decisions which can better our planet.'

Toni Vernelli, International Head of Communications at Veganuary, said, “We're thrilled to hear the news that Wagamama has made the commitment to halving their meat offering by the end of 2021. It's a big step as a high street restaurant and shows their dedication to making vegan eating as accessible as possible to the masses.

'Veganuary’s role is to help people choose plant-based foods, whether their motivation is health, planet, people or animals. Every year Wagamama has consistently made it easier to persuade people to try vegan food by introducing great-tasting, high-quality vegan dishes to their menu.

'This year is no different, as their Small Choices, Big Change campaign continues to champion the vegan movement by empowering their teams and guests to make sustainable choices.

'This new menu clearly embraces the opportunity to create vegan versions of fan favourites, while also introducing guests to new innovative plant-based options. It will appeal to non-vegans and vegans alike, and we can't wait to try it.”