Fast food is popular – over one third of the population eat at least one fast food meal every day. We want more people to choose a plant-based meal rather than an animal-based one, so it’s important to ensure that fast food restaurants have some tasty vegan options.
Many fast food restaurant chains are cautiously dipping their toes into the market to see what the demand is like for plant-based options. Here are some examples we’ve heard about:
- Starbucks is currently doing a limited trial of six new food items in three locations in Washington DC and Virginia, and their oatmeal breakfast item is available nationwide as a staple. For the first time last Fall, they offered a special vegan-by-default drink, the Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato.
- Subway tested a Meatless Meatball Marinara sandwich at 600 locations in the US and Canada in 2019, and that option is now available across Canada, although not in the US yet.
- McDonalds have signed a 3-year contract with Beyond Meat to test out various plant-based options in European locations. They are testing the McPlant burger here in the US so we hope they will plan to roll it out nationally soon.
- Burger King has been offering their Impossible Whopper for several years across the US. They are currently testing a plant-based chicken sandwich at select locations.
- Chipotle has been offering their plant-based protein, Sofritas (a tofu-based vegan protein) available at all locations for several years now. This year, they are adding two new plant-based options in their Lifestyle Bowls – the Veggie Full Bowl which is based on white rice, black beans and fajita veggies, and the Plant-Powered Bowl which includes supergreens, Sofritas, and fajita veggies, along with the salsa and guacamole.
- Taco Bell unveiled its first vegan beef option, called “the real seasoned plant-based protein” in 2021 and has rolled it out to various test locations. Working with Beyond Meat, they have also launched a Beyond Carne Asada Steak, a vegan version of the chain’s marinated steak, at 50 test locations in Ohio.
Let’s hope that the many test products from these various fast food companies are successful, and are rolled out to restaurants nationwide as soon as possible!
This is important. McDonald’s has almost 14,000 restaurants in the United States (and 39,000 world wide) and is finally rolling out vegan options to all its stores.
McDonald’s is developing what it calls a plant-based platform called the McPlant that will debut in markets around the world early next year. McDonald’s confirms creation of McPlant plant-based burger and the Crispy Chicken Sandwich, which will debut in 2021. McDonald’s has finally joined the plant-based burger battle and Chicken Sandwich War.
The plant-based chicken sandwich announcements were part of the company’s new growth strategy called “Accelerating the Arches.” The strategy includes a commitment to the core menu. In the future, McPlant could extend across a line of plant-based products. Interestingly, instead of buying existing products and incorporating them into their menu, McPlant is crafted exclusively for McDonald’s and by McDonald’s. They’re going it alone.
Compared to some other fast food chains in the U.S., McDonald’s has been something of a laggard. Burger King has worked with Impossible Foods to launch the Impossible Whopper, and Beyond Meat has partnered with KFC on a plant-based nugget. These two leading alternative protein makers have done a fairly good job of carving up the fast food market to date — but the McDonald’s entry with its exclusive formulation must come as a blow to these companies (and the other startups that were hoping for a bite of the McDonald’s food empire).
The veg movement is making progress. Some of us thought we would never see the fast food restaurants serve vegan meals in our lifetimes, but it seems that all the major chains are now embracing the concept, making it much easier to find vegan options on the road and hopefully encouraging many more people to give it a try.
For years we’ve said that plant-based foods are the foods of the future. Now, we’re watching that future unfold right before our eyes. The meat alternative industry is headed toward a $40B market by 2030, analysts say.
Plant-based foods are one of the hottest trends in the food industry right now. Indeed, within roughly a week, plant-based-meat maker Beyond Meat became the best performing public offering by a major U.S. company in almost two decades. Our latest information has Beyond Meat shares soaring anew to bring post-IPO gain to 240%. Yes, we said 240%.
While we’re excited for Beyond Meat, they’ll have plenty of competition. Boca Foods, Field Roast Grain Meat Co., Gardein, Impossible Foods, Lightlife, Morningstar Farms and Tofurky are growing strong as well.
Meanwhile fast food chain Burger King said that it would roll out the plant-based Impossible Whopper nationwide, and furniture giant Ikea announced that it would upgrade the meatless version of its popular Swedish meatballs. Restaurants such as TGI Friday’s are jumping on board too. According to stock analyst Kathleen Smith, restaurant chains are finding that they can draw customers just because they have a meat alternative.
Speculation is being fueled by the presence of Don Thompson, chief executive and founder of venture firm Cleveland Avenue, on the Beyond Meat board. Thompson is a former chief executive of fast-food giant McDonald’s which he helmed from 2012 until his resignation in 2015.
Could McDonald’s be next? Stay tuned for further developments.
Vegan burger at McDonalds! Yes, you heard me right. We said “Vegan burger at McDonald’s.” Some of us thought we’d never see the day when McDonald’s would serve up a vegan burger. But, the fact that that day has come shows just how much the plant-based diet is catching on.
The new vegan burger is debuting at their headquarters in Chicago Illinois. They’ve put it front and center. The new burger is called the McAloo Tikki and consists of a toasted bun filled with a veggie patty made with potatoes, pea, and seasoning reminiscent of samosas; topped with fresh red onions, tomato slices, and an eggless creamy tomato mayo (this still has some dairy though). Read more
Veggie burgers ain’t what (and where) they used to be. The food industry has been making one innovation after the other and spreading the availability of veggie burgers far and wide, including some unexpected places.
The new McVegan
A few days ago, news broke that rocked the veggie burger landscape: McDonald’s, yes McDonald’s, is testing a vegan burger. Meet the McVegan. Hoping to quietly test the McVegan away from the attention of the American public, McDonald’s went to a far away, really far away, place, Finland. Yup! the future of the new McDonald’s vegan burger is in the hands of the Finns. But don’t worry, they won’t let us down. The new McVegan is already getting rave reviews. If the test goes well, we may just find the new vegan burger right here at home.
The Impossible Burger
Meanwhile, when the good people at Impossible Foods said they were going to make a veggie burger so realistic it will bleed and even char just like a juicy hamburger, many people said that’s “impossible.” But they’ve done it, and it is quickly being made available around the country. The burger contains no animal fat, yet the flavor profile mimics that of 80/20 ground beef. Before it’s seasoned and layered with toppings, a nearly three-ounce patty clocks in at 220 calories and costs $13 – a little pricey but the price has been coming down.
Many people see a very profitable future for the new Impossible Burger. That’s why Impossible Foods secured $80 million over five years to develop the product that was later backed by Bill Gates and Khosla Ventures. The Impossible Burger is not yet available here in Washington but it’s getting close. The Impossible Burger is available in St. Helena in northern California. Because they use no animal products, the Impossible Burger uses a fraction of the Earth’s natural resources. Compared to cows, the Impossible Burger uses 95% less land, 74% less water, and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions. And of course, no animals were hurt in the making of these burgers!
The dream of all-vegetarian McDonald’s restaurants has taken a step closer to becoming a reality. After offering 50% vegetarian menus at most of its restaurants in India, McDonald’s has taken the next step with the announcement of their first two all-veg restaurants, which will open in India in the next few months.
While this is big news for the global veg world, it has many in the veg movement hoping that other countries will be next, including the good old US of A. A recent survey showed that fully 40% of the Indian population follows a vegetarian diet. While the percentages are lower here in the US, one recent survey showed that there are as many as 15 million vegetarians in the US and millions more veg-curious. With deeper pockets than their Indian counterparts, McDonald’s may just be tempted to tap into that market, if their experiment in India pans out as expected. The fact that McDonald’s is able and willing to respond to cultural norms is a good sign that the company is not irrevocably stuck in its ways. American consumers will have to drive the changes they’d like to see to McDonalds’ menu, by letting the company know of their desires, and that’s where we can all make a difference.
Their first vegetarian restaurant in India will open its doors middle of next year. It will be located near the Golden Temple in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar in northern India, where religious authorities forbid the consumption of meat at the shrine. After the opening in Amritsar, the US chain has plans to open another vegetarian restaurant near the Vaishno Devi cave shrine in northwestern Indian Kashmir – a revered Hindu pilgrimage site that draws hundreds of thousands of worshippers each year. The vegetarian restaurants will sell items such as the McAloo Tikki burger, a sandwich with a mashed-potato patty, and the Pizza McPuff, a vegetable and cheese pastry.