|A report published by the food awareness organisation ProVeg International finds that the five leading fast food chains – McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut, and KFC – are delivering an increasing number of plant-based food options to their customers.
The report ranks the Big Five in terms of how plant-friendly they are and Burger King comes out on top with the highest percentage of main dishes being plant-based.
Main meals, sides, desserts and menu presentation were taken into consideration at fast food chains across nine countries – Belgium, Czechia, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, Spain, the UK, and the US.
Subway came in a very close second in the ranking after Burger King, followed by McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and KFC.
“It is incredible to see how fast food – which has always revolved around animal meat consumption – has become more plant-friendly and, in doing so, more climate-friendly,” Josh Bisig, Senior Project Manager at ProVeg, said.
“We analysed 43 online menus across all nine countries and twenty-two of them (51%) offered at least one plant-based option. This is encouraging but there is still plenty of room for improvement,” he added.
Normalising plant-based options
The latest moves by the Big Five to incorporate plant-based into their menus include the launch by McDonald’s Germany of a vegan McFlurry dessert in 2022, while, in the same year, Pizza Hut UK introduced Violife vegan cheese into all of its UK locations, both for dine-in and delivery.
“Fast food chains are ubiquitous and play an important role in normalising climate-friendly food for millions of people around the world who might not otherwise consider the negative impacts of food choices. And these chains are increasingly doing this by making plant-based options more available, tasty and affordable,” Bisig said.
“While trend-setting with mainstream consumers, plant-based menu options also appeal to younger generations who are much more likely to purchase sustainable products and show loyalty to climate-conscious brands,” Bisig added.
While it’s clear that some chains are doing better than others, ProVeg found that all chains should focus on improving their menus in two key ways: increasing the plant-based options and implementing menu strategies to encourage mainstream consumers to choose plant-based.
Recommendations from the report
The report recommends a number of “best practices” that can drive consumers to enjoy more plant-based food. There are as follows:
ProVeg also recommends that, as the plant-based industry is continually growing, and people are becoming accustomed to plant-based alternatives to animal-based meat, dairy, and eggs, fast-food chains should consider partnering with, or expanding partnerships with, a variety of food manufacturers and retailers which are starting to expand in this space.
By partnering with the right outlets and distributors, plant-based brands are likewise increasing their impact, the report states.
ProVeg International is an international food awareness organisation working to transform the global food system by replacing conventional animal-based products with plant-based and cultivated alternatives.
ProVeg works with international decision-making bodies, governments, food producers, investors, the media, and the general public to help the world transition to a society and economy that are less dependent on animal agriculture and more sustainable for humans, animals, and the planet.
ProVeg has permanent-observer status with the UNFCCC, is accredited for UNEA, and has received the United Nations’ Momentum for Change Award. ProVeg also has Observer Status at the IPCC.