The rise of plant-based food substitutes continues

Health- and eco-conscious consumers continue to drive demand for plant-based meat and dairy options, to the point where enormous chains such as McDonald’s have now announced plans to add meat alternatives to their menus. However, this news isn’t without controversy, as critics have denounced such substitutes as still heavily-processed, though admittedly a more ethical and environmentally-friendly choice. Take this, as with all things, with a grain of salt, and check out the latest innovations in this category below.


McDonald’s is the latest fast food brand to McDabble in the plant-based meat trend with the introduction of the McPlant burger, Mickey D’s first plant-based burger menu addition. The McPlant burgers were reportedly co-created with the substitute masters at Beyond Meat, and are scheduled to be tested in key markets in 2021. Those that are excited by this news will be thrilled to hear that McDonald’s is already thinking of debuting more plant-based items farther out in the future, including plant-based chicken and breakfast sandwiches.


Pizza Hut has also teamed up with Beyond Meat to bring the first-of-its-kind plant-based meat pizza to the U.S. market. Now, health-conscious pizza lovers can opt for plant-based Italian sausage as a topping on Pizza Hut’s new “Beyond Italian Sausage” and the “Great Beyond” pizza options. The meat substitute gets its convincing flavor from a blend of garlic, paprika, and fennel seeds, common spices used in traditional sausage. This partnership is Pizza Hut's second attempt at adding a meatless substitute to the chain’s offerings: last year, Pizza Hut trialled another plant-based sausage pizza made with Incogmeato, Kellogg’s plant-based protein substitute.


The masterminds behind the “bleeding” meatless burger are back in the lab with a new challenge: to develop a plant-based milk that tastes like it’s from an actual cow. Impossible Foods has reportedly developed an Impossible Milk prototype, which boasts a creamy texture and can be added to hot coffee, tea, and cocoa without curdling. The prototype is still in the works, and Impossible Foods is continuing to research and develop plant-based substitutes for a variety of traditional proteins in order to ultimately lessen reliance on animal agriculture.