Detailed Findings & Methodology
Not everybody loves these innovative burgers. Nutritionists and consumer advocates have pointed out that in pursuit of that authentic burger-like flavor and texture, the companies that make plant-based meats employ such non-plant ingredients as magnesium carbonate (used in flooring and fire extinguishers), propylene glycol (the primary ingredient in antifreeze, and Red Dye #3, banned for use in cosmetics but apparently still okay in imitation meat. In other words, just because it doesn’t contain red meat, an imitation burger isn’t necessarily the healthiest option at every fast food restaurant.
Some major chains have thus far avoided these products. McDonald’s has introduced a non-meat Big Vegan TS — but only at its restaurants in Germany — and has just announced that it’s testing a “P.L.T.” (Plant, Lettuce, and Tomato) made with a Beyond Meat patty in southwestern Ontario, Canada. So far it has announced no plans to try anything similar in the U.S. And when Rob Lynch, the president of Arby’s, a chain whose motto is “We have the meat,” heard rumors that his team was looking into plant-based options, he stated categorically that there were no plans to add anything of the kind to the menu.
Though it’s not imitation beef, Chick-fil-A recently announced that it was exploring the possibility of adding some kind of alternative chicken-like product to its menu. And KFC is testing a plant-based chicken substitute, developed by Beyond Meat, in the form of wings and nuggets at a single unit in Atlanta. “My only regret,” Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, told the food service trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News, “is not being able to see the legendary Colonel himself enjoy this important moment.”
To find fast food and other chain restaurants serving burgers made with meat substitutes like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, 24/7 Tempo consulted the websites of both those companies, as well as the vegan-focused sites of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), VegNews, and Livekindly, plus the individual sites of almost 50 chain operations.
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