Plant-based foods launched

Different restaurants serve vegetarian alternatives to meat items


Dannika Shah

McDonald’s new McPlant Burger is a plant-based burger that is currently available in some California and Texas locations.

Finding vegetarian options at fast food restaurants can be difficult. 

But recently several different fast food chains came out with new plant-based and vegetarian options, creating a wider variety on their menus. 

Fast food restaurants such as KFC, McDonald’s, Panda Express, Little Caesars, Burger King, Starbucks, Taco Bell, and Chipotle have started offering plant based foods at select locations.

Different plant-based companies are partnering up with these major food chains to bring vegetarian options to people all around the United States. 

One plant-based company is Beyond Meat, which has partnered up with multiple chains, including KFC, McDonald’s, and Panda Express.

Specifically, KFC recently launched its Beyond Fried Chicken, a plant-based alternative to their regular chicken.  When the meat substitute was first tested at an Atlanta location, it sold out in hours. 

Beyond Fried Chicken is expected to continue to be on the menu in KFC restaurants in the future, and is currently available at the San Ramon KFC location.

Although the entree is plant-based, a KFC news release stated, “[Beyond Fried Chicken is] not prepared in vegan/vegetarian manner.”

“Most restaurants don’t have a lot of vegetarian options, but some places can accommodate,” said sophomore Esha Setty, who is vegetarian. “I can see the increase in the amount of vegetarian options at restaurants.”

From 2019-2020, total plant-based meat sales increased by 45 percent, according to Vox, an American news website.

Setty said it isn’t hard to find vegetarian options in the Bay Area. But when she was in Las Vegas, it was more challenging.

Another plant-based food launched by a major chain is Chipotle’s vegan chorizo, which has no artificial flavors or preservatives and is made from pea protein.

Chipotle launched three other non-meat bowls that include the plant-based chorizo: the ‘Whole30 Salad Bowl’, a vegetarian bowl, and a vegan bowl. These bowls are branded as ‘Lifestyle Bowls’.

McDonald’s recently announced their McPlant Burger, which is a plant-based burger that was created in collaboration with Beyond Meat made from pea, rice, and potato. It is only available in a few locations in Texas and California as of now. 

One McDonald’s that carries the McPlant burger is the location on San Ramon Valley Boulevard. There are also other locations carrying the burger as well, including restaurants in both Dublin and Danville.

Burger King also carries a plant-based protein option made from soy protein, the Impossible Whopper. The Impossible Whopper and regular Whopper are almost identical, except for one key difference: the patty. 

The Impossible Whopper is available at the San Ramon Burger King location at Camino Ramon and Crow Canyon Road.

Panda Express also recently launched its Beyond the Original Orange Chicken in partnership with Beyond Meat, which is another plant-based alternative to its wildly popular orange chicken. 

Many students enjoy other alternatives to meat that aren’t plant-based imitations of it, like nuts or beans. 

“I’ve never really had meat and I don’t like the texture, so that’s why I don’t want to try the Impossible meat,” junior Pari Saluja said. Saluja is vegetarian.

“I honestly really like to go for beans and rice because that’s a really good way to get protein,” senior Carly Kern said. “It feels good and hearty and filling.” 

Kern said it’s nice to have a variety of options around the Bay Area, especially in grocery stores.