Dunkin’ Donuts has become the first restaurant chain in the US to add the Beyond Breakfast Sausage to participating Manhattan menus in partnership with Beyond Meat, with plans to further extend this nationally. The new imitation-meat breakfast sandwich is composed of peas, mung beans, rice, sunflower oil, coconut oil and is served with an egg and cheese.
Dunkin’ Donuts is just the latest restaurant chain to join the rising trend in plant-based eating. Tim Horton, Famous Dave’s and Del Taco have also added Beyond Meat products to their menus in recent months, and KFC reportedly sold out of its Beyond Meat imitation fried chicken in just five hours, after its trial launch in Atlanta.
This is another signal that increasing consumer demand for plant-based foods in the US is influencing supply in the food service industry. Dollar sales of plant-based foods have increased by 31% in the past two years. A reported 39% of Americans are trying to incorporate plant-based foods into their diet; however, just 3% describe themselves as vegan. The appeal of imitation meat beyond vegans is evident in the fact that Dunkin' Donuts serves its Beyond Breakfast Sausage alonsgisde animal-based products, demonstrating that their product is not primarily aimed at vegans.
Faux meats are acting as an appealing gateway into plant-based eating, attracting more people to give it a try. However, to what extent are meat imitations addressing a more fundamental and sustainable imperative to simply start eating more vegetables and fewer processed foods - including meat imitations?
Whatever the health and sustainability concerns of imitation meats, their rising popularity is certainly a step in the right direction for consumer’s perceptions of plant-based eating. The increasing availability of meat-free options in fast food restaurants is also a big step in ensuring that plant-based eating becomes more accessible to all communities, in the US and elsewhere. However, it is significant in terms of accessibility that trials such as these at Dunkin’ Donuts are initially taking place in more urban areas like Manhattan, rather than rural areas.