Burger King’s vegan pop-up serves as a roadmap for the fast food industry

Burger King recently trialled a vegan location in London, UK, and it could serve as a roadmap for the fast food industry in transitioning to plant-based menus. Last month, Burger King’s Leicester site transformed its menu to be 100% vegan, offering 25 plant-based options, including vegan double bacon cheeseburgers, chili cheese bites and its popular Whopper herbal. The month-long trial was intended to help the company find out if there is a demand for permanent meatless locations.

While Burger King isn’t the only major fast-food chain to offer vegan versions of its most popular items and more, it’s ahead of the curve when it comes to testing all-vegan locations. From McDonald’s to Subway, restaurants are seeing a growing demand for meatless options, resulting in new menu items that are nearly identical to the real thing. Because much of the meat of animal origin in fast food dishes is processed, breaded or under a layer of condiments, Burger King’s vegan pop-up had the side effect of showing that the entirety of fast food menus are relatively easy to replace. with vegetable products.

Burger King has toyed with this idea through several marketing campaigns, most notably for its new vegan chicken nuggets, which are advertised with the message “chicken nuggets that got [sic] no chicken… but a taste of chicken. The old “Meat?” chain ? campaign in Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil and Germany also drew a comparison between the visual similarities of meat products and their plant-based substitutes.

Burger King United Kingdom

Burger King goes meatless

When Burger King first introduced a vegan version of its iconic Whopper (replacing the beef patty with a plant-based Impossible Burger) in the United States in 2019, fast food fans rejoiced and there was no It didn’t take long before the meatless article rolled out to all sites nationwide. The same was true in the UK, where veganism has spread faster than in North America, which might explain why Burger King decided to test its vegan location in the nation’s capital.

While Burger King’s Plant-Based Whopper, Vegan Royale and Vegan Nuggets will continue to be part of its menu at all UK locations, the chain is exploring rolling out some of the most popular vegan pop-up dishes to other locations in an effort to meet the company’s goal of offering a 50% meat-free menu by 2030.

Burger King’s vegan location in Leicester Square isn’t the first outpost to go completely meatless, but it could be the first to go entirely vegan. Last year, the chain turned a location in Spain into a meatless paradise for a full month. The Madrid outpost served vegetarian dishes, made by its European plant-based food supplier The Vegetarian Butcher, including Long Vegetal (a plant-based version of Long Chicken, also known as ‘Chicken Royale “); a herbal Whopper; and vegan chicken nuggets. A similar test was carried out for the first time in Germany, where Burger King opened a completely meatless location for a limited time in Cologne.


Benefits of vegan fast food

London restaurateur James Lewis says consumers should get used to these changes because vegan fast food is the future. Lewis, who runs vegan restaurant 123V in London alongside star chef Alexis Gauthier, believes it’s only a matter of time before fast food menus across the country are fully vegan.

“Fast food is 100% the best place to go vegan [food]. Chains are often made fun of by people, but they set trends here,” Lewis Told media The Guardian. “There’s no point in starting a vegan chain, because once McDonald’s figure out how to make a good vegan burger, they’ll be like, ‘what’s the cost of keeping all these animals when we can make it this good and grow it in the ground?'”

In addition to the expensive process of raising, feeding, slaughtering and packaging animals for food, all climate research indicates that animal agriculture, especially beef production, is the most environmentally destructive sector of the global food industry. In a 2021 study published in a scientific journal natural food, the raising of animals for food, as well as the cultivation of plants used to feed farmed animals for slaughter, is responsible for the vast majority (59%) of all emissions from food production . “Pretty soon people will have their burger and it’ll be a vegan one and it’ll be the norm and they won’t think any differently,” Lewis said.


Likewise, celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn, who runs plant-based burger chain PLNT Burger in the United States, sees the vegan fast food trend as representative of something bigger. “There’s a plant space revolution going on and we’re living in it right now,” Mendelsohn previously told VegNews. “People will look back and see this as the moment everything changed.”

From McPlant to Beyond Fried Chicken

Lewis and Mendelsohn’s predictions may seem extreme to some, but many other major fast food chains have also started hinting at a plant-based future. “I certainly expect that over time you will see herbal products [food] on the McDonald’s menu,” Chris Kempczinski, CEO of McDonald’s Corporation, Told CNBC in 2020. “I think some countries will be more advanced than others, but I expect we’ll have plant-based products on the menu, it’s just a matter of when.”

Shortly after this interview, McDonald’s launched its first meatless burger, the McPlant, made in partnership with vegan brand Beyond Meat, in select locations in the United States after testing iterations of a meatless burger in Canada and in several European countries, notably in Sweden and Denmark. , the Netherlands and Austria.

Similarly, KFC has been working with Beyond Meat since 2019 to test meatless versions of its popular fried chicken. Earlier this year, the chicken giant expanded Beyond Fried Chicken into a nationwide trial at its more than 4,000 locations across the country.


And sandwich chain Subway has also pledged to offer more vegan options following a controversy involving its tuna sandwiches. A lawsuit last year claimed that Subway, the world’s largest sandwich chain with more than 40,000 locations, sold a “mixture of diverse concoctions” in its popular tuna sandwiches. The plaintiffs alleged that the star ingredient was not what it was marketed for, but rather was “made from anything but tuna”.

Vegan seafood brand Good Catch Foods, which launched with Vegan Tuna in 2019, took advantage of this opportunity and roamed Subway locations with food trucks branded “Our Way” using the familiar font of the Subway. Trucks served “real” vegan tuna sandwiches outside select Subway locations in three cities to encourage the chain to ditch fish altogether.

Along with Subway capitulating to add more vegan options, this stunt highlighted the unidentifiable nature of fast food meat, which, for the sake of animals, people and the planet, might as well be made from plants.

For more on vegan fast food, read:
First publicly traded vegan fast food chain expands to nearly 50 locations
Burger King is the first fast food chain to serve impossible vegan nuggets
Vegan Chain Plant Power Fast Food will open 7 new locations

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