A Look at Fast Food Restaurants Serving Up Plant-Based Meat

The plant-based retail market has registered 11% growth

Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A number of fast-food chains have introduced plant-based meat alternatives in recent months, partnering with meatless companies Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods.

They are reacting to consumers' increased appetite for those foods: from April 2018 to April 2019, the plant-based retail market has registered 11% growth, according to data published on the Plant Based Foods Association website.

“Plant-based foods are a growth engine, significantly outpacing overall grocery sales,” PBFA Senior Director of Retail Partnerships Julie Emmett said in a press release.

Although there has been recent backlash over claims that some restaurants are preparing the meatless products on the same equipment where they cook meat, numerous fast-food chains continue to add plant-based meat to their menus.

Here is a look at how some menus are changing:

McDonald's joined the the meatless family in October with its new burger called P.L.T. (Plant Lettuce Tomato), by partnering with Beyond Meat. "McDonald’s has a proud legacy of fun, delicious and crave-able food—and now, we’re extending that to a test of a juicy, plant-based burger,” Ann Wahlgren, McDonald’s VP of global menu strategy said. The burger is available in 28 locations in Ontario, Canada, as part of a process, to determine if the product stays on the menu.

Dunkin' Donuts
In August, Dunkin' Donuts joined with Beyond Meat to introduce a breakfast sandwich with a meatless sausage. "Dunkin’ has always stood apart for offering new and exciting choices to meet the needs of our on-the-go guests," David Hoffmann, Dunkin’ Brands CEO and President said. After a successful trial period in Manhattan, Dunkin' added the Beyond Breakfast Sausage in all menus across the nation.

Subway added meatless meatballs to their menu as part of its Marinara sub. "Subway appeals to so many fans because we truly offer something for everyone. Our guests want to feel good about what they eat and they also want to indulge in new flavors," said Len Van Pospering, Subway's Chief Brand and Innovation Officer. This limited offer started in September in 685 stores across the U.S. and Canada.

Burger King
Burger King has introduced the Impossible Whopper, with Impossible Foods. "We've seen a movement, we've seen how guests are demanding an alternative to beef," Jose Cil, the restaurant's Brand CEO said in an interview with CNBC. The meatless whopper started to sell in August and it's accessible nationwide.

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is exploring plant-based products with Beyond Meat. A press release says that Beyond Fried Chicken is part of the company's commitment of understanding its consumers' tastes and preferences. Samples for Beyond Meat nuggets started in late August, in Cobb Parkway's stores in Atlanta.

Red Robin
Red Robin is one of the restaurants that has joined the Impossible family, giving consumers new choices. “It was important for us to offer a new meatless protein option that appeals to traditional burger lovers, flexitarians or anyone craving a unique flavor combination," said Jonathan Muhtar, Red Robin's Executive Vice President and Chief Concept Officer. The Impossible burger was added to the restaurant's regular menu earlier this year.

QDOBA introduced meatless options in April. “As many Americans are looking to cut back on meat consumption, we recognized the need to add a plant-based protein to our menu," Keith Guilbault, CEO of QDOBA Mexican Eats said. Impossible bowls and tacos are available in 730 locations across the U.S.

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