- The fake meat craze has snowballed, and dozens of fast-food chains have unveiled meatless items.
- Consumer demand for plant-based proteins has skyrocketed.
- Panda Express is the latest chain to jump on the trend, with Beyond Meat Orange Chicken.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Companies are riding a wave of enthusiasm for plant-based alternatives to meat and are rolling out new menu items that range from meatless breakfast sandwiches to vegan orange chicken.
The fake meat trend is fueled by consumers’ increasing concern for healthier and more sustainable food as well as by innovation in the development of tastier meat alternatives, according to Vox.
Panda Express will roll out a vegan version of the chain’s bestselling orange chicken starting on July 26 in New York City and Southern California. This will make it the first nationwide Asian restaurant to offer a meatless alternative.
Panda Express partnered with Beyond Meat, and Insider found recently that the vegetarian version of orange chicken tasted nearly identical to the old favorite.
Dunkin’ Donuts jumped on the plant-based trend with its Beyond Sausage breakfast sandwich, which was introduced to thousands of stores in 2019, beating Starbucks’ meatless breakfast sandwich by a few months. These plant-based options, including the breakfast sandwich and oat milk, are part of the chain’s efforts to appeal to younger people, an analyst told Insider.
Burger King introduced the Impossible Whopper, a meatless imitation of the chain’s classic Whopper burger made in partnership with Impossible Foods, a plant-based food maker that’s one of Beyond Meat’s competitors. Starbucks also partnered with Impossible Foods to offer the Impossible Breakfast Sandwich nationwide.
Both chains’ meatless menu items are vegetarian but not vegan.
Instead of trying to imitate the texture and taste of meat, Wendy’s is forgoing partnerships with both Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods to launch a spicy black bean burger.
Though McDonald’s has rolled out test runs of its McVeggie burger and McPlant items in other countries, it’s unclear when U.S. customers will be able to buy the plant-based menu items.