Last year was full of surprises. Very few will remember it, but during 2019 the large restaurant chains joined the boom of vegetable meat or, as they popularly called it, «fake meat.» The greats, Burger King, KFC, McDonald’s, and Pizza Hut, decided to go for more environmentally friendly and cruelty-free options, offering 100% vegetable and meat-free alternatives on their menu.
This fashion started on August 8th of 2019, when Burger King announced the launch of its Impossible Whopper, which was presented in Saint Louis. This new idea was worked in collaboration with Impossible Foods, who produced the hamburger with proteins, fats, and plant nutrients, among which soy hemoglobin, also known as Heme, would stand out.
Months later, on November 12th, they launched the Rebel Whopper in 25 countries in Europe, this time with the support of The Vegetarian Butcher, a vegetable meat company owned by Unilever since 2018.
But this didn’t stop there. Due to the success of the hamburger king, three other companies joined this new proposal. And so, on August 27th, KFC announced the arrival of Beyond Fried Chicken, nuggets and chicken wings made entirely from vegetable meat created by the Beyond Meat line. These products would have been decommissioned by Beyond Meat since their vegetable chicken meat did not «meet their standards». However, KFC was encouraged to try it out for testing and to see if the public liked it. The result? KFC customers in Atlanta, where the launch was made, sold out the Beyond Fried Chicken in 5 hours.
Due to the success of these two lines, there was another fast-food giant that couldn’t be left behind. Thus, McDonald’s released on September 30th in Canada, its PLT hamburger, which means «Tomato. Lettuce. Plants». The line worked hand in hand with Beyond Meat to develop its 100% vegetable hamburger that «looks and tastes like meat». This hamburger was Offered for 12 weeks in the Canadian city of Ontario at a price higher than its standard burgers due to taxes. This proposal didn’t receive much public acceptance so the product quietly disappeared from the McDonald’s menu.
At the end of the year, one more fast food restaurant firm decided to dare to introduce vegetable meat in its products. To the surprise of many, it was Pizza Hut who took a step forward by implementing plant-based Italian sausage to his new pizza, which they named «the Garden Specialty.» Additionally, they modified its traditional packaging and offered the new pizza in a circular box that was developed in collaboration with Zume, a company that is dedicated to the automated production and delivery of pizzas with a focus on sustainable practices.
The sausage for the quirky pizza was provided by Kellog’s «vegetarian meat» division, MorningStar Farms, which launched its Incogmeato line that year. In this way, Pizza Hut launched on October 23rd, in Phoenix, its Garden Specialty pizza, with 100% vegetable Italian sausage, onion, peppers, and mushrooms. Although, of course, it was also launched experimentally.
Restaurants have made many attempts to implement new proposals that are pleasing to the public and that are beneficial to the environment. However, these are still in development and although not all have been successful, the effort of the brands to make the attempt to provide solutions that are liked by all is appreciated.
These proposals are no longer available in the market, but, if new initiatives with vegetable meat came out, would you dare to give the still emerging «fake meat» a chance?