Want Meat With That? Burger King Makes Plant-Based Patties the Standard

|Updated Jul 20, 2022
Instagram / @burgerkingaustria

Burger King's menu is officially plant-based. Or at least it was for one day as a test, in Austria. The fast food giant tried a one-time campaign called “Meat Optional,” requiring customers to have to specifically request the meat-based Whopper patties instead of the plant-based variation when they ordered. The campaign set out to reverse the accepted custom that meat patties are standard and instead made the plant-based burger the regular one on the menu.

Burger King recorded the reactions of customers in a short film that will accompany the campaign. The major fast food company has led the industry into a new plant-based era that frequently positions plant-based options at the forefront of their business. Now, Austrian customers will be faced with the question, “Do you want regular or meat-based?”

“With this question, we want to stimulate the social debate and show that our plant-based alternatives have a confusing taste,” Chief Marketing Officer of the TQSR Group (BK's Austrian master franchisee) Jan-Christoph Küster said in a statement.

“Meat is one option, but it is not the only one. We leave it to our guests to decide what is normal for them. Everyone should not be required to have the same taste.”

The video reveals that most customers responded positively to the question. Burger King’s newest campaign closely follows its statement claiming that one in three of its burgers sold in Belgium is vegetarian. The company is testing customer reactions to gauge the success of a permanently plant-based menu, especially as several European branches shift further into the plant-based sector. Burger King UK has even claimed that its menu will be 50 percent plant-based by 2030.

“At Burger King, we are making meatless indulgence a permanent fixture on our menu, because meat no longer comes naturally to everyone,” Küster. “With the provocative question ‘Normal or meat?’ we want to show that we take our customers and their needs seriously. Because from now on, we also serve almost our entire range [as plant-based].”

Burger King is Going Plant-Based Worldwide

Burger King is leading the fast-food industry into new plant-based frontiers. Ever since debuting the Impossible Whopper in 2019, the international fast-food corporation has expanded its plant-based development worldwide, especially within Europe. Before the Austrian campaign, Burger King introduces plant-based options to locations in France, Germany, Belgium, and more with the help of The Vegetarian Butcher.

This June, the beloved burger chain opened two plant-based concepts in Switzerland, serving fully plant-based menus in Basel and Geneva. For approximately one week, the two plant-based pop-ups served 14 vegan menu items including the Long Vegetal, Veggie Whopper, Veggie Nuggets, and several Cajun-style offerings.

Among the major fast-food brands, Burger King is the sole company to open fully vegan locations or standardize plant-based meat. The chain also opened a 100 percent vegetarian location in Spain called Vurger King and hosted one month-long vegan pop-up in London this March.

Vegan Fast Food in the United States

Burger King’s dedication to plant-based development is helping the entire industry shift towards more sustainable options. The entire vegan fast-food market is expected to reach $40 billion by 2028. Several fast-food brands have launched plant-based trials or permanent menu items including McDonald’s McPlant or Panda Express’ Beyond The Original Orange Chicken.

With major fast-food chains paving the path for plant-based alternatives, the United States has experienced a spike in regional vegan chains. California-based fast food brands Plant Power Fast Food and Noomo have partnered with franchising agencies to make their national debuts. In the Northeast, Valeries will open the tri-state areas' first exclusively vegan drive-thru. In no time, customers will have access to affordable, tasty vegan options – and eventually, these may be the standard.

For more plant-based happenings, visit The Beet's News articles.

Fast-food restaurants have finally got the memo that their customer base isn’t just coming through for a burger, fried chicken, or a beef taco. Many now have plant-based foods and are coming up with creative, delicious ways to get more greens on the menu. Here are the 6 best fast-food chains with plant-based options on the menu.

1. Burger King

Turns out there’s a lot more to rely on than a salad if you’re eating plant-based. Burger King has the Impossible Whopper featuring a meatless patty as well as a few secretly vegan options such as the French Toast Sticks and Hashbrowns.

2. White Castle

Known for its mini square-shaped sliders, this hamburger chain jumped on the plant-based bandwagon at some participating locations. You can find an Impossible Slider on some White Castle menus.

3. Del Taco

This was the first national Mexican fast-food chain to offer Beyond Meat at the company’s 580 restaurants across the country. Del Taco has the Beyond Avocado Taco on the menu along with the Epic Beyond Original Mex Burrito and Avocado Veggie Bowl.

4. Carl's Jr.

Another brand synonymous with beef burgers, Carl’s Jr. offers several plant-based options for veggie and plant lover such as Beyond Famous Star Burger and Guacamole Thickburger.

5. Taco Bell

This fast-food restaurant may have been one of the first you frequented while transitioning to plant-based eating. That’s because Taco Bell has eight million vegetarian combinations and sells 350 million vegetarian items a year through menu substitutions or ordering off their vegetarian menu. In fact, they were the first quick-service restaurant to offer American Vegetarian Association (AVA) certified food options.

6. Starbucks

From the time it started offering breakfast sandwiches in 2006, the coffee conglomerate became a competitor in the fast-food space. You can get your favorite hot and cold beverages made with almond, coconut or oat milk but there are also plant-based food options available such as the Baja Black Bean Veggie Wrap, bagel with vegan cream cheese and Impossible Breakfast Sandwich.