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Ever since Beyond Meat launched its fried chicken product last summer, we’ve been seeing more and more restaurants adopt it as a plant-based menu option. And now even the Colonel himself is on board. Starting January 10, KFC locations across the U.S. will be offering Beyond nuggets – at least for a limited time.
But, you’ll have to excuse us if we’re a little underwhelmed by the announcement, because there’s a big catch. On a company statement about the release it notes very clearly that, while the Beyond Meat itself is completely plant-based, at your local KFC it will be “not prepared in vegan/vegetarian manner.” Instead the pre-prepped nuggets will reportedly be dropped into the same fryers as the restaurant’s other offerings.
Why bother bringing out a veggie product that will be cooked alongside animal products? KFC U.S. President Kevin Hochman told CNN it’s because plant-based eaters aren’t really the audience for this initiative. Rather, they’re targeting consumers “that want to eat a little less animal-based protein, but that haven’t become vegan or vegetarian.”
That’s a growth market to be sure – last year, more than a third of Americans said they’re eating less meat, without going fully veg.
While we would still love to see more major chains and institutions make genuinely vegetarian offerings accessible to more people, many plant-based eaters are embracing these efforts by KFC and other chains. There is even a statement on the website of PETA encouraging vegans to be flexible about cross-contamination, especially if it might give corporations the hint that plant-based proteins are good business. “We urge vegans not to insist that their food be cooked on equipment separate from that used to cook meat; doing so doesn’t help any additional animals, and it only makes restaurants less inclined to offer vegan choices,” the statement reads.