Photo: Milkos (iStock)

Even as recently as a decade ago, it seems restaurants would reluctantly include a vegan item on their menu, usually buried near the bottom by the desserts, something obligatory and unimaginative like black bean burgers. Vegan menu offerings felt like afterthoughts, a cover-your-ass tactic to mitigate complaints from the ~2 percent of diners who inconvenienced chefs by not eating meat.

Those days, seemingly, are long gone, and the idea of meat-free dishes is becoming more appetizing to even the most voracious of meat-eaters. In fact, a new study from food consumer research group Foodable Labs found that 51 percent of chefs have added vegan items on their menu in the past year, compared to 31 percent from the previous year. That trend, according to Foodable, is expected to grow in that direction in the years to come.

While we can’t infer the motivation behind this trend, within The Takeout staff, we’ve noticed how we—and we’re all unapologetic meat eaters—have included more dishes on our dinner table that are “accidentally vegan.” We don’t even realize there’s no bacon lardons, pads of butter, or melted cheese in it—we’ll eat an entire menu and realize only afterward that no animal products were involved. Maybe it’s us growing older and being more cognizant of our dietary habits, or maybe it’s a reflection of just how normal it is now to not involve meat with every single meal, and it’s not just some hippie-crunchy ideal. This news feels refreshing.