Fast food usually means fat and bad for you.
Few people visit a McDonald’s (MCD) – Get McDonald’s Corporation reportBurger King or a Wendy’s (MAGNIFYING GLASS) – Get the Wendy’s Company (The) report looking for a healthy meal. And, broadly speaking, those who visit any of these chains’ US sites won’t have a hard time finding it, if they’re looking for healthy choices.
Wendy’s has salads that aren’t actually bad for you, and you can get a regular baked potato, but much of the menu is built around burgers, fried chicken, and fries. McDonald’s doesn’t even offer salads in the United States. He tried adding them to the menu (McSalad shakers, anyone?) but the chain’s audience wasn’t very interested.
Basically, while they’ve made some concessions when it comes to kids’ meals, McDonald’s and Wendy’s know what they are and who their customers are. Both understand that people walking through the door want a Big Mac or something with the word Baconator in the title.
In fact, both chains have stopped selling any kind of plant-based burger. McDonald’s recently stopped selling its McPlant in the United States after its trial period ended. Wendy’s tried a bean-based burger in 2021, but it disappeared before it made a mark.
International restaurant brands (RSQ) – Get the report from Restaurant Brands International Inc. Burger King, however, kept the plant-based Impossible Whopper on its menu while also offering its plant-based patty as an option on other sandwiches. The chain hasn’t said much about how sales of its plant-based products are doing, but it’s made it clear that it sees meat-free products as a key part of its future.
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Burger King makes a bold commitment
Burger King has used the UK as a sort of testing ground for meatless products. The chain actually turned a London location into an all-vegan restaurant. It’s, of course, a bit of a publicity stunt, but it’s also a chance to test whether customers will actually buy vegan “chicken” nuggets, a “chicken” katsu burger and other vegan choices at alongside his Impossible Whopper.
The chain has also pledged to sell a 50% meat-free menu in the UK by 2030. That’s still a long way off, and the UK isn’t the US, but Burger King seems to believe that its future may not be as meat-based as Wendy’s and McDonald’s seem to believe it must be.
McDonald’s, it should be noted, has had more success with McPlant and other vegan/vegetarian options outside of the US. The McPlant remains on many of its menus outside of its country of origin.
Burger King pushes the boundaries of the menu
Fast food may actually be able to go – at least for some products – to vegan, because it’s the condiments that provide the most flavor, not the burger patty.
“Fast food is 100% the best place to go vegan,” vegan chef James Lewis told the Guardian: “Chains are often made fun of by people, but they set the trends here. start a vegan chain because once McDonald’s figure out how to make a good vegan burger they’ll be thinking, ‘What’s the point of the cost of keeping all these animals when we can make it this good and grow it in the ground ? ?’
That’s a pretty optimistic view of the vegan market, and the US has been less open to meatless options than other parts of the world, but Burger King’s efforts in the UK could eventually pay off in the US. United.
Menu items that become a hit in the UK could eventually cross the pond. And while vegan nuggets seem overkill for an American Burger King, McDonald’s or Wendy’s, the day may come when the public clamors for them. If that happens, Burger King will be well placed to deploy its efforts in England and bring them home.