UNITED STATES, April 15, 2019 (USA Today): Two weeks after Red Robin became the largest restaurant chain to serve The Impossible Burger [a plant-based meat substitute] and Burger King announced the pilot of the Impossible Whopper [likewise] in St. Louis, two more restaurants announced Monday that they are joining the growing plant-based foods movement. Blaze Pizza is adding a vegan Spicy Chorizo topping at its 300-plus restaurants nationwide Tuesday. Then on April 25, Del Taco will become the first national Mexican fast-food chain to offer plant-based meat across all 580 locations with two new meatless tacos, officials told USA TODAY. Chipotle Mexican Grill is considered the first major chain to offer a vegan option when in 2014 it introduced its Sofritas, a spicy, shredded, organic tofu. That same year, White Castle released its first vegan veggie slider. Last year, KFC announced it was testing a vegetarian equivalent of its famous chicken in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In January, Carl's Jr. added the plant-based Beyond Burger to its menu and Taco Bell announced it would test a dedicated vegetarian menu.
The demand for plant-based products is growing as more people want to reduce meat consumption because of health concerns, said Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat's founder and CEO. "We are about accessibility and meeting people where they're at in their journey - whether you're a hardcore carnivore or a strict vegan, you should be able to have our tacos, enjoy what you're eating and feel great afterward," Brown said. According to a June 2018 Nielsen report, while only 6% of Americans said they follow a strictly vegetarian lifestyle and 3% a strictly vegan lifestyle, 39% of Americans said they were trying to eat more plant-based products. To Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association, the growth of plant-based products in restaurants and stores isn't a trend, but a movement. "We're talking of a mainstreaming of this way of eating," Simon said, adding meat and dairy alternatives are growing in popularity. "You can't get more mainstream than Burger King and Carl's Jr."