There's no doubt that fast-casual restaurants and chains are striving to add more plant-forward options to menus as of late, but often, many plant-based or vegan creations remain exclusive to the United Kingdom. This time, we have good news for our US readers because a plant-based menu item is coming stateside. UK-based Pret A Manger just introduced its Meatless Meatball Wrap to all 42 locations within the United States.

The sandwich chain will provide customers in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New York City with the fully vegan sandwich following its successful trial run in the UK. The Meatless Meatball Wrap featured plant-based meatballs from the plant-based brand Meatless Farm. Although this menu was created for Veganuary, customers can expect to see the new meatless wrap on menus permanently within the US and the UK.

The new collaboration is the latest development in Meatless Farm’s continued US expansion. The vegan meatballs feature a pea protein-based recipe that is accented by garlic and Italian herbs. The sandwich contains marinara sauce and red onion, topped with red pepper and crispy onions.

“As plant-based menu items continue to grow in popularity, we are excited to work with Pret A Manger US to launch their first-ever vegan, meat-alternative item on their Hot menu,” Meatless Farm Founder Morten Toft Bech said in a statement. “More consumers are increasingly aware of how meat consumption impacts the planet and this partnership allows them to enjoy fresh, high-quality plant-based food that tastes amazing while helping to protect not only their health but the environment, too.”

Pret A Manger’s Vegan Aspirations

The quick-service chain is no stranger to plant-based food. In the UK, the company has been developing new plant-based items since 2015. Pret A Manger’s CEO Clive Schlee revealed that she recognized a growing interest in vegan food, and decided to push research and development forward at an accelerated rate. For example, the company added nine new dishes to its UK stores, working with Meatless Farm for the first time by substituting its signature Swedish Meatball Hot Wrap with the plant-based alternative.

Beyond plant-based proteins, the company is working to add sustainable options to its menu in every category. Pret A Manger first introduced oat milk to all its US locations in 2020, dropping the surcharge for plant-based milk almost immediately afterward. Now, the company is debating a similar expansion for plant-based meat.

“We are excited to offer our first meat-alternative menu item for customers who are looking to enjoy more plant-based options for health reasons, animal welfare, or helping to protect our planet,” President of Pret A Manger US Jorrie Bruffett said in a statement. “As more consumers continue to recognize the benefits of eating plant-based foods, this delicious menu addition and partnership with Meatless Farm will make eating more of it just a bit easier.”

Within the UK, Schlee tested a plant-forward Veggie Pret pop-up in London. The pop-up was so well received that the concept expanded to approximately a dozen permanent locations within the UK. Beyond the vegan sandwiches and drinks, the Veggie Pret locations also house vegan bakery counters for plant-based sweets. The US branch tested a similar Veggie Pret pop-up in New York City, leaving customers wondering if international expansion for the Veggie Pret concept is a possibility.

“Pret is on a mission to make every day a little brighter by bringing joy through delicious food that’s thoughtfully sourced. We are constantly evaluating our menu and developing innovative recipes to appeal to all of our customers,” a Pret A Manger spokesperson said to VegNews. “We understand many of our US customers are looking to consume less meat and we remain committed to bringing new plant-based recipes to market, most recently with the launch of our Meatless Meatball Wrap.”

Future of Vegan Fast Food

Pret A Manger is the latest in a long line of companies to incorporate plant-based dishes into its main menu. The company joins a rapidly rising vegan fast-casual and fast-food industry. Currently, the vegan fast-food market is predicted to reach $40 billion by 2028 as international consumers’ interests lean towards more sustainable and healthier options.

Working alongside Pret A Manger, Meatless Farms is also attempting to position itself prominently within the US market. Although there are plenty of alternative protein companies, Meatless Farms is distinguishing itself by partnering with large companies like Pret A Manger.

Last year, the vegan brand teamed up with America’s iconic hot dog company, Nathan’s Famous, to release its first veggie dog since opening more than a century ago. Now, plant-based fast food is becoming more commonplace, making vegan eating cheaper and more accessible for consumers everywhere.

The 6 Best Fast Food Chains With Plant-Based Options on the Menu

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.

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