Fast food restaurants are catching up on to the fact that people want more eco-friendly and healthy options. The introduction of healthy products into the fast-food industry began in 2013 when McDonald’s faced heavy pressure to have healthier food options to combat child obesity. This week, McDonald’s announced that they will soon introduce a ‘McPlant’ line with vegan and vegetarian options from Beyond Meat. Furthermore, Pizza Hut also partnered with Beyond Meat and is the first national pizza chain to partner with a plant-based meat substitute production company.
Pizza Hut has announced that they will offer two pizza options with plant-based substitutes: The Beyond Italian Sausage and the Great Beyond Pizza. The Italian Sausage is their typical cheese pizza topped with Beyond-Italian sausage crumbles. While their Great Beyond Pizza has vegetable toppings such as tomatoes, sliced onions and peppers.
McDonald’s has announced that they will be adding the McPlant Hamburger, which will simply replace their regular beef patty with a Beyond patty. They also plan to introduce a chicken sandwich on a potato roll to their McPlant line.
They are doing this to meet growing consumer demand for meatless alternatives, but they are a little late to the trend, as Burger King, Carl’s Jr., White Castle, Dunkin’ Donuts and Del Taco have all partnered with either Impossible Meat or Beyond Meat to meet this increasing desire for plant-based meat substitutes.
The difference between a veggie burger and a Beyond or Impossible burger is that a veggie burger does not attempt to taste like meat and once bitten into, they don’t look like meat either. A Beyond or Impossible burger allegedly has all of the qualities of meat that meat-lovers desire. They ‘bleed,’ they have a red-toned inside, they smell and they feel like real meat. So much so, that some people who have been vegetarian or vegan for a long time get an upset stomach after trying them.
Not only is this plant-based meat substitute revolution a great way to fill a demand from vegetarians and vegans, but it is also a huge win for environmentalism and animal welfare. McDonald’s adoption of plant-based foods is a huge step towards normalizing them, which is crucial for the environment. Once a beef patty is on your plate, it’s done significant harm to our environment. Meat production is a huge cause of land and water pollution, habitat loss and greenhouse gas emissions.
The Center for Biological Diversity writes that the annual American consumption of beef creates 337 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year. This is the equivalent of 32.3 million cars. There are plenty of other negative environmental impacts of meat production. Habitat loss is due to increased demand for lands to grow animal feed and to keep cattle, which kills tons of wildlife. Factory farms pollute groundwater and over 35,000 miles of rivers due to the runoff of pesticides and fertilizers used to produce animal feed.
The fact that the biggest fast-food companies just signed with Beyond Meat is also great because plant-based meat substitute companies require fast-food chains to partner with them for them to be successful. These companies could have a significant impact on how much the environment suffers from our food consumption, so these fast-food restaurants partnering with them is a great step forward.