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!
The news about plant-based meat products just keeps on coming. Some thought we’d never live to see the day, but some of the biggest purveyors of meat have become some of the biggest purveyors of plant-based food. Competition is heating up in the plant-based protein industry, now worth $14 billion in the US, that Wall Street thinks could grow to be worth $140 billion. We’ve already seen Maple Leaf, a large meat company, acquire Lightlife and Field Roast. Conagra bought Gardein and is getting behind the product, while Nestlé bought Sweet Earth and recently launched their Awesome burger under this brand. Earlier fears that meat companies would acquire plant-based companies only to ruin them have fortunately not been borne out.
Consumers are rushing to try meat substitutes in a number of fast food restaurants, and data show that they’re willing to pay higher prices for the products. A number of high profile fast food restaurants sell plant based foods meat substitutes, and there are more to come. We’ve already written about Burger King’s new Impossible Whopper and the Subway’s forthcoming meatless meatball sub, but others are getting on the bandwagon as fast as they can. Dunkin launched their Beyond sausage sandwich in 163 locations across Manhattan, and KFC’s Beyond Fried Chicken launch in Atlanta sold out in just a few hours. Other chains such as Carl’s Jr, Tim Horton’s, Hardee’s and Del Taco are all getting in on the act.
Almost as exciting is the move by many meat companies to innovate their own new meat substitutes. Tyson foods launched Raised & Rooted, a line of products which includes vegan meat alternatives. They are also investing in a plant-based shrimp company. Kellogg has launched Incogmeato, a “next-gen product line” that includes a “ready-to-cook plant-based burger” and fully prepared plant-based “Chik’n” tenders and nuggets. Kroger, which owns Fred Meyer, will launch its own plant-based burgers, cookie dough, pasta sauce, sausage, deli slices. Hormel Foods has just launched its own line of plant-based meat alternatives. The line, called Happy Little Plants, includes a ground plant-based protein alternative. Hormel also offers plant-based pizza topping items and the Applegate Blend Burger, which combines organic meat and mushrooms.
This looks like a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon. The trend is firmly geared toward giving meat-eaters more plant-based options that they can discover and enjoy. While many of them may stick at being flexitarians, rather than moving to full-on vegetarians or vegans, any reduction in the consumption of animal products is welcome in our book!
Subway has become the latest fast-food chain to jump on the plant-based protein bandwagon by releasing a new meatless meatball sub. Subway has announced that it will test a sub with plant-based meat, vegan, the Beyond Meatball Marinara, in 685 North American restaurants this September.
“Our guests want to feel good about what they eat and they also want to indulge in new flavors,” said Len Van Popering, Subway chief brand and innovation officer, in a statement. “With our new plant-based Beyond Meatball Marinara sub, we are giving them the best of both worlds.”
The sandwich will feature marinara sauce and provolone cheese on meatballs. Hold the Provolone and choose 9 grain or Italian bread to keep it vegan. This option will be an alternative to their vegetarian patty, which has long been available, but includes a little egg. There’s no mention of whether or not the Beyond Meat-based sub will carry a premium over its regular counterparts.
Plant-based and vegan fast-food options keep sprouting up. There’s quite the competition between Beyond Meat and the Impossible Burger to get their products into as many restaurants as possible. This latest news about Subway follows the launch of the Impossible Whopper at Burger King and other locations. Look out for more meat-free products coming soon to restaurants near you!