The good news for plant-based eaters is that fast-food chains are doubling down on vegan menu options, introducing meatless burgers including the McPlant, Impossible Whopper, and Beyond Famous Star Burger. Unfortunately, these fast-food chains often fall short when serving vegan customers by including dairy cheese and egg-based mayo on the sandwiches. Until now, most fast-food meatless burgers have featured non-vegan ingredients, but A&W and Beyond Meat are teaming up to launch the chain's first completely vegan burger that will help shift this standard.

A&W Canada will become one of the first North American fast-food chains to drop animal-based ingredients completely, launching the Jalapeno Lime Beyond Meat Burger at more than 1,000 locations across Canada. The limited-edition burger is made in partnership with Beyond Meat and features a dairy-free spicy vegan jalapeno lime aioli. The burger will be topped with classic lettuce, onion, and tomato served on a vegan seven-grain bun.

“The Beyond Meat Burger has been a fan-favorite since day one, and we’re excited to offer our guests a new, fully plant-based option with delicious, bold flavors,” Director, Brand Communications and Digital Marketing, A&W Canada, Julia Cutt said in a statement. “We’re confident the Jalapeño Lime Beyond Meat Burger will satisfy meat-eaters and plant-based lovers alike.”

A&W’s exclusive plant-based burger will be available at Canadian locations for a limited time, but the fast-food chain offers several meatless burgers on its permanent menu that can be made vegan. While customers need to order without egg-based mayo and cheese to eat fully plant-based, A&W’s menu has included Beyond Meat patties since 2018. When the fast-food chain first launched the meatless burger, it reported selling more than 90,000 burgers within the first three days.

This heightened interest in plant-based burgers is a trend that stretches worldwide: The vegan fast-food market is expected to reach $40 billion by 2028, increasing at an 11.4 percent growth rate. The accelerated growth of plant-based interest has motivated fast-food giants to develop more vegan and vegetarian-friendly options. With the help of fast-food companies, vegan meat is now featured on menus 1320 percent more since the start of the pandemic.

“Through the debut of the Jalapeño Lime Beyond Meat Burger, we continue to excite and delight consumers with mouthwatering, no-compromise plant-based options—this time with an all plant-based build,” Marketing Director of Beyond Meat Canada Heena Verma said in a statement. “We are proud to collaborate with A&W Canada, our longtime partner, to make plant-based burgers that are better for people and the planet more widely accessible to Canadians.”

A&W’s partnership with Beyond also extends to the rest of its menu. The two companies previously debuted a vegan breakfast sandwich served on an English muffin. In 2021, A&W introduced Beyond Meat vegan chicken nugget to its menus for a limited time. While the plant-based chicken has yet to be added to the permanent menu, A&W and Beyond continue to work closely to develop plant-based menu options.

Vegan Fast-Food’s Real Impact

Major fast-food companies have started catering to the growing plant-based community while also aiming to appeal to meat-eaters. A recent report from World Animal Protection discovered that approximately 630,000 animals were saved from the food system in the United States last year. The report concluded that consumers have gravitated towards buying more plant-based food, significantly cutting into the existing animal agriculture industry.

"Restaurants are definitely trying to meet this rising demand for plant-based products by offering more meat alternatives on their menus," Farming Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection Maha Bazzi said to USA TODAY. "The industry is expected to stay the course in 2022 as meat alternatives evolve and become more widely accessible."

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