Just like other favorite dishes, pizza is experiencing new demand for plant-based versions. Alongside the greater fast-food movement towards vegan alternatives, international pizza chains have started to develop new marketing techniques to cater to vegan clientele. Papa John’s is no exception: The multinational pizza chain is ringing in National Pizza Week in the UK by highlighting the level of plant-based sales it brought in last year.

The Pizza, Pasta, and Italian Food Association examined Papa John’s UK and found that the pizza chain experienced an 81 percent rise in plant-based pizza orders between 2019 to 2020. The significant vegan push signifies the global market's growing interest in both vegan cheese and fully plant-based pizza options. The data also calculated that the pizza chain saw a 154 percent rise in plant-based side dish orders.

“It’s fantastic to see demand for vegan food continue to grow every year, largely driven by the incredible range of plant-based dishes available now to consumers,” Senior Marketing Director at Papa John’s UK Giles Codd said. “With recipe innovation at our core, we’re proud to offer such a wide selection of award-winning vegan products in our stores, including pizzas, sides, dips, and desserts. We’re also the only takeaway pizza chain to offer a Vegan Cheese Stuffed Crust, something’s that’s proving popular with our customers!”

Currently, Papa John’s features six vegan pizza options across 500 vegan-friendly stores in the United Kingdom. The company also serves several plant-based side dishes including Vegan Cheese Potato Tots, Cauliflower Wings, Vegan Cheese & Marmite Scrolls, and “Not-Chicken” Vegan Bites.” While the company’s UK locations have enhanced introduced several innovative pizzas to the menus, the United States branch has fallen behind.

Within the United States, plant-based pizza is increasing in popularity nationwide as consumers begin to be more interested in healthier, more sustainable options. Research firm The NPD Group revealed that plant-based protein producers shipped to foodservice distributors to pizza operators 56 percent more during the second quarter as compared to last year.

“Plant-based is no longer just a niche player in the foodservice market. It’s a mainstream ingredient that appeals to a broad section of consumers,” President of NPD’s SupplyTrack service Tim Fires said. “It makes perfect sense that a popular food, like pizza, would now offer plant-based options.”

Competitors such as Little Caeser’s and Pizza Hut have incorporated plant-based proteins into their menus over recent years to accommodate the rising consumer demand. NPD’s research went on to say that 20 percent of consumers claimed they intend to increase the plant-based proteins within their diets, signifying the alternative proteins will become increasingly popular across the entire pizza market.

While Papa John’s currently does not offer plant-based protein toppings, consumers can order a fully plant-based pie from the signature pizza chain. Here is every step to order a plant-based pizza at Papa John’s while consumers wait for Papa John’s to introduce its vegan menu to the United States.

Build Your Own Vegan Pie

Start With Papa John’s Original Dough: The original hand-tossed dough is made without any of the typical dairy or animal-based ingredients that other pizza doughs contain. This pizza dough is free from egg wash, milk, and even honey, providing consumers with a safe, vegan base for any pizza.

Choose Between the Original Marinara and BBQ Sauces: Papa John’s offers two signature sauces that contain solely plant-based ingredients. The original Marinara sauce is the iconic staple of the pizza chain, but its new BBQ pizza sauce is also completely vegan.

Select Some Fresh Veggies: Since Papa John’s does not offer any vegan cheese in the United States yet, the most important parts of the pie are the toppings. Customers can select any or all of the available toppings including Onions, Jalapenos, banana peppers, green peppers, mushrooms, Roma tomatoes, pineapples, and Spinach. Mix and match the toppings for a different experience at every visit, and be sure to add some pepperoncini on the side.

Choose Your Favorite Dipping Sauces: A key aspect to the Papa John’s experience is the dipping sauces. The national pizza chain offers several dipping sauces for its slices that give customers an extra dose of flavor for every bite. Choose between the  Garlic Dipping Sauce, Buffalo, Barbeque, and Pizza Sauce to add a little more to the Papa John’s experience.

Bring It Home and Add Your Own Cheese: While Papa John’s currently doesn't offer any plant-based cheeses, there is no reason not to add some at home. The plant-based base that Papa John’s provides can be easily reheated with vegan cheeses such as Chao Creamery and Violife to provide the full vegan pizza experience.

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Fast-food restaurants have finally got the memo that their customer base isn’t just coming through for a burger, fried chicken, or a beef taco. Many now have plant-based foods and are coming up with creative, delicious ways to get more greens on the menu. Here are the 6 best fast-food chains with plant-based options on the menu.

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