- McDonald's Germany is adding a vegan burger option to its menu called the Big Vegan TS on April 29, according to VegNews. The patty is made with Nestle’s plant-based Incredible Burger made from soy and wheat proteins,
- This is McDonald's Germany's first foray into offering a plant-based protein option. It previously only offered a vegetarian burger made from quinoa. The restaurant branch is also creating a vegan chicken burger in its Munich test kitchen.
- Other locations where McDonald’s offers vegan items include the U.K. and Norway, with plans to rollout vegan options in Australia later this year.
A number of QSR chains are starting to add vegan and vegetarian options to their lineups, converting some of their classic menu items to trendy plant-based fare. There's a good reason for chains to make room on their menus for these innovative options. Thanks to new diets that focus on plant-based eating and flexitarianism, consumers are driving demand for an entirely new category of product offerings. Despite the growing popularity of things like gluten-free, paleo and keto diets, however, over half of diners find it difficult to order at restaurants.
Companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are coming up with vegetarian and vegan burgers based on pea-protein and other ingredients, and fast food chains are quickly scooping up the menu additions. Carl's Jr. was one of the first major chains to add the Beyond Burger to its menu in January of this year and Burger King announced this month that it's testing the Impossible Whopper at 59 of its store locations near St. Louis. White Castle also offers the same burger product at 377 of its locations. New York City's Bareburger also offers The Beyond Burger .
Chipotle was one of the first QSRs to test vegetarian protein options with its Sofritas. Now, several Mexican QSR chains — including Qdoba and Del Taco — are experimenting with the company's plant-based protein substitutes. Taco Bell also recently launched a vegetarian menu in the Dallas metro area featuring new items like a Vegetarian Crunchwrap Supreme and a Vegetarian Quesarito.
Fast casual gourmet burger chain Red Robin recently partnered with Impossible Foods to offer its plant-based burger at 560 store locations as the restaurant has been struggling to stay relevant amid shifting preferences. Panda Express added vegan entrees to its menu in response to a petition from animal rights groups.
McDonald’s U.S. has been noticeably absent from the plant-based trend, especially in the U.S., and the reason behind its hesitation to jump on the plant-based bandwagon remains unclear, although executives have said they are keeping an eye on the plant-based protein trend. It could be waiting to see whether consumers have a clear preference between Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat, or it could be figuring out its own plant-based blend. If if does end up rolling out a plant-based burger option, it will likely be popular among consumers. White Castle's meatless option has been very popular and some restaurants are selling 300 Impossible Sliders each day since its launch, for example.