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Plant-Based Deliveries – Deliveroo’s Head of Vegan Elena Devis on the Success of the Category


It has been a challenging year for online food deliveries, but the vegan category may prove to be more robust than others. In the UK, as consumers cut their spending, restaurant delivery and takeaway sales have dropped. Delivery and takeaway sales in the UK have fallen over the past 15 months as consumers rein in spending. However, the vegan category is still a growth area. At the recent Hostech conference, Uber Eats reported that the two categories to show the biggest growth on the platform were vegan and coffee.  

Deliveroo now offers more than 15,000 plant-based and vegan-friendly restaurants across the UK. The platform went all out for Veganuary with exclusive limited edition offerings from top restaurants and bakeries.   

Elena Devis is Head of Vegan Category at Deliveroo. She is one of the main drivers behind Deliveroo’s pioneering and enthusiastic approach to vegan online deliveries. At the recent Plant Based World Insider Talks webinar she shared her views on why the vegan category has been relatively successful. She accepted that online delivery is facing challenges, with the double-digit growth seen over the past three years now slowing down. However, she believes that the company has worked hard to support plant-based choices by making it easier for consumers to find more of the options they want.    

She described three pillars that she believes have been crucial to the category’s success.  

Pillar 1: Availability of Vegan Products. “I started at Deliveroo in 2018. I remember it was pretty much impossible to find vegan options on the platform. And the ones there didn’t have the right labels, which was very confusing. We’ve come a long way from that. We now have more than 50,000 menus, restaurants and grocers offering vegan options. Availability has been arguably the number one driver of the category’s success. I think what’s important is that we now have options across different times of day and for all occasions. It’s not just vegan burgers. We have tofu scrambles for breakfast, Buddha bowls for lunch, and kebabs, pizzas, and curries for dinner. The growth across cuisines has been amazing.”    

Pillar 2: User Experience. “This is incredibly important for online sales. It includes menu tabs, filters, banners, and item labels. Last year we released a new feature that allows restaurants to add dietary labels to each item. We’ve got vegan, plant-based, gluten-free, keto, and paleo, so not just dietary requirements but also lifestyle choices. How we display these options on the platform is so important. If the options are there, and consumers can’t find them, we’ve got a problem.”   

Pillar 3: Emotional Connection. “A few years ago, we weren’t really talking about this, but now we include plant-based, health and sustainability messages in marketing campaigns, newsletters, and social media. We need to get the platform to a place where we build an emotional bond with consumers because that’s what will keep them coming back.  

We need to understand the different types of people buying into plant-based, or not buying. We need to understand their motivations, or lack of motivation, and tailor our content to those needs. We need super-bespoke content for each consumer audience, whether that’s price, health, or sustainability.” 

“I want to open my Deliveroo app and see exactly what I’m looking for. I want a platform that understands my needs and gives me the correct information and options. For example, if I’m on my period and want something sweet, I want Deliveroo to understand that. Customers want that level of personalisation. When you log in to Spotify and Netflix, you feel they know you. That’s what differentiates them. Everyone can find food online. But if they can also find content that helps them achieve their goals or feel better about themselves, they’ll choose you.” 

As well as making it easier for consumers to find food that aligns with their tastes, lifestyle choices and values, Deliveroo has worked closely with suppliers. Elena Devis shares: “We worked hard to show restaurants the commercial value of selling plant-based food. Some brands will sell those products as a branding decision and a commitment to sustainability without necessarily considering the commercial implications. If that is the case, it is amazing. But 99% of brands need some justification to invest in plant-based. So we did a lot of engagement to get brands on board. It is a big challenge because many restaurants are not in a position to invest in innovation. So we need many more successful case studies to continue to move the needle. We know that about 31% of our audience is either vegan, vegetarian or into plant-based eating. So it’s a no-brainer. If they don’t offer at least one plant-based option, they’ll miss out on those orders.”  

Alice Grahame
Alice Grahame is a freelance writer based in London. She’s worked for the BBC, Guardian and various NGOs. She enjoys walking, allotment gardening and trying new plant-based dishes.