The Nosara region has a healthy tourist economy during season of December, January and February, but how can we bring more visitors here during March, April and August? One way to extend our season is to attract a new market.
According to a 2008 study by Vegetarian Times, 7.3 million Americans are vegetarians, and 22.8 million citizens follow a “vegetarian-inclined diet.” About one million Americans are vegan. Other data are sketchy, but North Americans lead the pack in the developed world. Obviously, India is another story.
All sorts of people are vegetarians, but the veggie lifestyle is usually adopted by people interested in health (perhaps the same people who practice yoga), activities (perhaps many of the same people who surf), animal rights (perhaps the same people who like to watch monkeys and birds) and people who are environmentally aware (perhaps the same people who choose Costa Rica for a vacation trip).
The Nosara region is already attractive to vegetarians, and the vegetarian/vegan demographic is certainly ripe for the hospitality sector, with hotel dining and restaurants at resort destinations a particularly good target. Vegetarians want to enjoy dining out on their vacations just like everyone else.
Many restaurants in the region already include vegetarian menu choices but if every restaurant offered a few options in each category (appetizers, entrees, and desserts) the Nosara region would have a great marketing tool. Advertising Nosara as a veggie destination on veggie websites and publications such as the Vegetarian Times will bring more visitors.
Many chefs and cooks do not understand an entree must have protein and should have the look of their usual offer—that is, center-of-the-plate appeal with the flourish and garnishes of a meat, chicken or fish dish. Cooks use chicken stock, animal fat and other animal products as a way of life.
The roadblock may be the management since chefs and F&B managers have generally not been trained to concoct vegetarian and vegan entrees for their menus. Another issue is supply since vegan substitutes for meat and dairy require a few special ingredients that are not always available through wholesale grocers. Finally, menu language, and the creation of new marketing channels may also be challenging. Among the 30 of so eateries in Nosara, many, if not most, now provide a few choices, but the opportunity exists to make our destination a vegetarian showcase to the world.