By Sean Zucker –
Ba Da Ba Ba Bah, Vegans Are Loving It! The claim may be debatable, but McDonalds is proceeding as if it is truly their new jingle.
First reported by CNBC, the historic restaurant chain plans to soon add more plant-based alternative items to its menu across America. The new slate will be highlighted by the “McPlant”, an entirely meat free burger. Other similar items will also be offered, though the specifics have not yet been released.
While the company has not yet disclosed the producer of their meatless products, a spokesperson confirmed with CNBC that McDonalds will not be manufacturing the products. Beyond Meat, the food producers responsible for Dunkin Donuts’ plant-based options, saw an 8 percent drop in the stock market Monday morning following the news, reports CNN.
It’s an interesting developing considering how McDonald’s began flirting with plant-based alternatives. Late last year, the storied brand first demoed a meatless burger in several Canadian locations across Ontario. During this period Mickey D’s enlisted none other than Beyond Burger to manufacture its plant-based sandwich, coined as the P.L.T. It is unclear whether the P.L.T. will be joining McPlants on U.S. menus.
Regardless, the ensuing American launch follows a trend that began picking up steam last year. Several fast food chains had begun responding to increased demand for plant-based offerings—be it for health or environmental reasons. This included big brands such as Burger King, Denny’s, Dunkin’, Target and Wegmans all moving to pony up beef-less options.
Despite the increasing number of options, it wasn’t clear whether these products realistically met the desire for healthier, more environmentally friendly fast food. While the McPlant’s nutritional breakdown has yet to be released, it’s Beyond Burger counterpart hasn’t exactly been an edible health citadel. WellWell noted at the time, “A four-ounce Beyond Burger patty contains 250 calories, 18 grams of fat and 20 grams of protein. Impossible Burgers stack up similarly, with the same serving size holding 240 calories, 14 grams of fat and 19 grams of protein. What about four ounces of traditional ground beef? Not much different. They yield 230 calories, 15 grams of fat and 21 grams of protein. Admittedly, plant-based burgers have no cholesterol, although they’re considerably higher in sodium than beef burgers.”
Unfortunately, these concerns remain, as nutritionist Samantha Cassetty explained in June. “The reality is that unless your patty or meat alternative is made with tofu or pulses (such as black beans, peas or lentils), plant-based meats are considered processed foods,” she wrote in TODAY. “And while not all processed foods are created equal, research suggests that a diet high in processed foods may result in a higher calorie intake and weight gain when compared with eating a diet high in whole foods and low in processed fare.” Cassetty went on to underline that processed veggie burgers’ high sodium levels increase the risk of obesity, heart disease and stroke.
Not surprisingly, fast food plant-based items tend to be highly processed in line with other processed foods. The question remains then if McDonald’s new McPlant offerings is a step forward or just sideways.