Fast-food is going vegan, and KFC is leading the way—who could have guessed?
The second-largest chain restaurant in the world has introduced plant-based Kentucky fried chicken at branches in the UK and Europe, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and across the U.S. and Canada.
In the U.S., KFC partnered with Californian vegan protein producer Beyond Meat. In the UK, Quorn, and in Canada, Lightlife. KFC is even currently working on lab-grown nuggets—a non-vegetarian but potentially sustainable alternative to traditional animal products—in Russia.
What’s vegan in the U.S.?
When KFC first launched its Beyond Fried Chicken at Cobb Parkway, Atlanta, the meaty vegan options sold out fast. Really fast. While KFC wasn’t the only fast-food chain to add vegan meat to the menu in 2019—or to expand options in 2020—it may be the only one to sell 100 percent of its products in less than five hours.
Customers queued around the block, and their response to Beyond Fried Chicken was overwhelmingly positive. The company’s collaboration with Beyond Meat made KFC the first quick-service-restaurant in the U.S. to launch plant-based fried chicken.
Following the successful trial, the fast-food giant launched its plant-based chicken nationwide for a limited time. As of January 10, Beyond Fried Chicken is now available in more than 4,000 KFC locations across the U.S.
KFC says that its plant-based options may not be suitable for strict vegetarians and vegans due to the company’s cooking methods. But certain branches prepare plant-based menu items such as fries in a separate fryer. The Beyond Meat chicken itself is 100 percent plant-based.
In addition to Beyond Fried Chicken, KFC has a handful of other vegan—and finger lickin’ good—menu offerings, including BBQ baked beans (contain “natural flavoring” that’s undefined by KFC) green beans, secret recipe fries, and sweet kernel corn.
Vegan Kentucky Fried Chicken in Canada
In Canada, KFC has partnered with plant-based meat producer Lightlife on the Plant-Based Fried Chicken Sandwich and Plant-Based Popcorn Chicken.
The plant-based popcorn chicken was only available for a limited time. However, the Plant-Based KFC sandwich has been available permanently in Canada since August 2020.
“The Plant-Based KFC sandwich delivers the same great taste of chicken,” said Dan Curtin, President of Greenleaf Foods, SPC, the owner of Lightlife. “But made with plants.”
KFC Canada also offers vegan-friendly sides, including french fries and coleslaw salad.
Liam writes about environmental and social sustainability and the protection of animals. He has a BA Hons in English Literature and Film.