Vegan fast food is about to go Next Level. That's the plan anyway, as Next Level Burger just announced that it will open 1,000 new stores across the country, a bold move to help the chain compete with major vegan fast food players like Plant Power and PLNT Burger by offering satisfying classics like burgers, fries, shakes and more, all made from plants. If even a fraction of the public decides to try meatless burgers and dairy-free shakes, there will be plenty of business to go around.

Nearly 84.8 million American adults eat fast food every day, however, most fast-food places offer lackluster (if any!) options for vegan customers, so Next Level Burger aims to provide tasty comfort food classics to an underserved plant-based clientele. This month, the Oregon-based chain secured a $20 million investment package to support its plans to quadruple its current store count nationwide by 2025.

Soon, Americans nationwide will have Next Level Burger opening in their neighborhoods. The company's long-term mission is to open 1,000 storefronts across the United States. Currently, customers can find Next Level Burger locations in Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, Texas, and New York.

“Since our founding in 2014, our company mission has been focused on a triple bottom line philosophy of doing good, having fun, and making money,” Matthew de Gruyter, CEO and co-founder of Next Level Burger, said in a statement. “Now more than ever, the fight against climate change and for sustainability drives us and our awesome team of mission-oriented stakeholders. At NLB we believe the future is bright, but it’s up to all of us to make sure of it.”

Comfort Food Created for Everyone

Next Level Burger features a menu familiar to American consumers, including classic burgers, fries, milkshakes, and more, showcasing specialty burgers such as The Maverick (a Beyond Burger or housemade patty topped with onion rings, tempeh bacon, melty vegan cheese, pickles, and sauces).

Hidden inside Next Level Burger, the company operates a plant-based chicken concept called Next Level Clucker. The menu features baskets of fries, chicken tenders, salads, and vegan chicken sandwiches called "CluckerWiches."

Next Level Burger founders Matthew and Cierra de Gruyter intend to usher in a sustainable era of fast food, believing that providing more people with plant-based food for an affordable price can help curb the environmental consequences onset by animal agriculture. Currently, meat and dairy only provide 18 percent of the world's calories, despite using 83 percent of global farmland. By adopting a plant-based diet, consumers could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 61 percent.

“I believe that we are at the single most important point in human history,”  de Gruyter told VegNews. “At no other time has the fate of humanity and the rest of the species populating this planet, relied upon the decision and the actions we take in this 21st century. The stakes are too high and the science too strong to do anything less than all we can to fight climate change and promote long-lasting sustainability. For us, growing NLB aggressively, but wisely is how we maximize that impact. At NLB we believe the future is bright, but that it is up to all of us to make sure of it.”

Vegan Fast Food Arrives Nationwide

Fast food giants such as Panda Express, McDonald's, and Burger King have tapped into the growing plant-based market. This month, Panda Express launched Beyond The Original Orange Chicken at 2,300 locations nationwide. With partnerships with Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, these fast food chains are making sustainable food more accessible than ever.

Now, smaller vegan fast food chains including Plant Power Fast Food and Noomo have entered into partnerships with franchising agencies to expand nationwide. Fueled by emerging and well-established chains, current estimates expect the vegan fast-food market to reach $40 billion by 2028.  More recently, even Kevin Hart joined the competition, opening his new vegan fast food concept Hart House.

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