Updated April 26, 2021. The Burger King Vegan Chicken Royale launched today at all UK locations.
It features a vegan chicken fillet produced by the Vegetarian Butcher, iceburg lettuce, vegan mayo, and a sesame seed bun. It is fully certified by the Vegan Society’s Vegan Trademark, as is the Royale Wrap, children’s Veggie Burger, bean burger, and Burger King’s fries. All vegan ingredients are prepared separately.
Vegan Trademark wrote on Instagram: “We’ve ensured it’s free of animal ingredients or by-products, and that Burger King meet our strict cross-contamination guidelines when preparing their Vegan Royale.”
“At Burger King UK we’re all about delivering great tasting food for our customers, so we’ve purposefully taken our time with the Vegan Royale to make sure it’s the best on the market,” Soco Nunez, the Marketing Director of Burger King UK, told The Metro. “In fact, we would go as far as to say it’s an identical taste experience to the original Chicken Royale.”
Will there be a vegan Rebel Whopper?
Burger King also launched an improved, 100 percent plant-based Rebel Whopper today.
The original Rebel Whopper contained a vegan patty from the Vegetarian Butcher. But it also shared a grill with animal products and was served, by default, with egg-based mayo. The new version features vegan mayo, but still shares a grill with beef burgers, making it 100 percent plant-based but not vegan, contrary to previous reports.
Burger King told LIVEKINDLY: “So far, we have not found a way to capture the iconic flame grilled taste of the Whopper, whilst also ensuring there is no cross contamination of plant-based and meat products. However, we’ll always continue to try and find flavorful solutions to our cooking methods, which appeal to as many of our guests as possible.“
Much like similar options at other mainstream fast-food restaurants, Burger King’s Rebel Whopper targets flexitarians and meat-eaters looking to cut back on their consumption of animal products.
Speaking to iNews back in March, the fast-food chain’s UK CEO Alasdair Murdoch said that vegan menu items may eventually replace much of the meat, and up to 50 percent of Burger King’s UK menu could be plant-based within a decade. He also said that Burger King is currently working on vegan chicken nuggets.
“When we bring in a plant-based product… There is probably an equal and opposite reaction where we are taking something else off,” he said. “Are there going to be less meat products? Ultimately, you would say yes.
Why is Burger King expanding its vegan menu?
According to iNews, Burger King launched the plant-based versions of its Chicken Royale and Whopper patties as part of long-term goals to reduce beef sales and curb carbon emissions. At its current scale, meat production is unsustainable, and cattle raised for beef and dairy have the largest impact on the environment by far.
A comprehensive study carried out by investment firm Blue Horizon reports that a kilo of typical beef mince generates $7.26 in environmental costs compared to just $0.48 for the same quantity of plant-based meat.
“Over time the amount of beef that we are selling as a proportion of our total sales is reducing,” Murdoch explained. While he did not rule out cultured meat as a potentially sustainable alternative to traditional beef, he indicated that Burger King will continue to emphasize plant-based options for now.
The news of the chain’s additional vegan options coincides with the launch of “Burger King for Good,” a transparent charter detailing corporate commitments “for the planet, guests, employees, and communities.”
In a statement sent to LIVEKINDLY, Murdoch said: “Now more than ever, we believe that fresh, good quality food is vital to the quality of our lives and the health of our planet.”
Burger King and sustainability
“Being good to the planet, our people and guests is central to our values at Burger King UK,” continued Murdock. “And despite the challenges faced by the pandemic, I believe this crisis has given us an opportunity to ‘build back better’ and drive through our company values.”
Other sustainability targets from the charter include 100 percent recycled or certified packaging by 2025, 0 percent single-use plastic by 2025, and immediate adoption of the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) food waste roadmap.
Earlier this year, Burger King launched the 100 percent plant-based Vegan Bean Burger to coincide with Veganuary 2021.
Burger King is not the only fast-food company leaning towards a plant-based future. Last week, Beyond Meat announced its partnership with McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut to add its vegan meat to their menus around the world.
With the launch of the Vegan Chicken Royale and certification of Burger King’s fries, customers can now get a fully vegan meal for the first time at a price of £6.79.
Editor’s note: Since publication, this article has been corrected. Burger King contacted LIVEKINDLY with clarification of the cooking methods and ingredients for the new and improved Plant-Based Whopper.