The impossible made possible: plant-based alternatives in the restaurant industry
For more than 50 years, Burger King has been the home of the Whopper. But in 2002, it introduced its first meatless burger.
When the fast food chain introduced the MorningStar veggie burger, provided by MorningStar Farms, the menu became more inclusive. For years, vegetarians and people with other dietary needs have enjoyed the taste of a burger without changing their lifestyle, but vegans have been excluded… until now.
There are 7.3 million people in the U.S. who follow a vegetarian diet, according to Vegetarian Times. Since 2017, there has been a 987 percent increase in the demand for meat-free food, according to Vegan Society.
Following the trend, Burger King has introduced its first vegan burger, the Impossible Whopper. The supplier Impossible Foods has a mission to save meat and the earth by only using plants.
For its initial release, the Impossible Whopper was only available in select locations in St. Louis, Missouri. By the end of 2019, the restaurant plans on adding the plant-based burger to menus across America, according to Business Insider.
MorningStar Farms also plans to add more vegan-friendly options to appeal to more customers and their diets, eliminating the use of dairy products.
Burger King customer Chad Skinner finds it difficult to eat out when on-the-go because of the significant lack of options on many menus.
“I eat meat almost every meal, and currently I’m participating in 21-day church-wide fast where I’m sacrificing meat, sweets and other food items,” Skinner said.
Skinner believes many more restaurants should have inclusive menus, but appreciates the restaurants that are making an effort.
“[Vegan and vegetarian options] allow you to have the sort of taste for the meat and satisfy that urge to sort of taste a burger, but at the same time, not break your fast,” Skinner said.
Unlike Skinner, who dedicated 21 days to not eating meat, there are people who dedicate at least 53 days out of the year to not eating meat. This is because of Meatless Monday.
Meatless Monday is a global, non-profit movement that encourages people to go without meat once a week. This represents a fresh start to the week and a start to making big changes.
Campaign and Communication Manager for Meatless Monday Joy Lehman believes the rising trend of restaurants expanding their menus is not only going to help people, but the environment as well.
“Swapping out a plant-based that would have been a meat meal is by far the easiest way you could help reduce your environmental footprint,” Lehman said. “And also, it tastes good. You’re only winning by choosing that option.”
Besides Burger King, restaurants such as Taco Bell, Carl’s Jr. and White Castle have introduced vegetarian and vegan-safe options to their menus. According to Fast Company, the future of fast food is meat-free, and it’s happening quickly.
By Rachida Harper