Chick-fil-A is the latest fast-food chain to announce it’s working on vegan options. The chicken chain told Business Insider that it’s in the “early stages” of identifying meatless options including vegan chicken.
“We’re definitely aware, and I would say we’re always interested in, what’s happening in food,” Amanda Norris, the executive director of Chick-fil-A’s menu, told Business Insider.
“Specifically … a vegetarian option or a vegan option is something we’re looking at, we’re thinking about, and have some [research and development].”
The chain has been heavily criticized recently for its funding of anti-LGBTQ organizations. Documents obtained by ThinkProgress, revealed that Chick-fil-A donated $1.8 million in 2017 to groups “with a discriminatory record against the LGBTQ community,” CNN noted.
But despite the public backlash, Chick-fil-A, with more than 2,200 locations, is still on track to become the third largest fast-food chain in U.S. sales this year.
The chicken chain’s menu already features a number of vegan options including waffle fries, hash browns, superfood sides, and the recently launched kale salad.
Vegan Fast Food on the Rise
Rival chicken chain KFC has also announced plans to launch into the vegan space. It already offers vegan chicken sandwiches in its Canada locations, and last year it launched several vegan options in Vietnam.
But after it announced plans to overhaul its U.S. and E.U. menu to reduce calories and sodium levels and offer healthier sides, the chain announced plans to trial vegan chicken in its UK locations.
BBC host Nisha Katona was among the first to try the new vegan burgers at KFC’s UK development kitchen.
“Oh my heaven! On a dream job today – filming for the BBC One Show with exclusive access to the actual KFC headquarters development kitchen,” Katona tweeted. “Also I was the first member of the public to taste the new vegan chicken burger. This to me is actually living the dream.”
Katona said the new vegan chicken tasted “brilliant.”
“Oh my word – brilliant product – they are still working in [sic] it but truly great start,” she tweeted.
Other leading fast food chains including Burger King, Carl’s Jr., Del Taco, A&W, White Castle and Taco Bell have all recently added vegan meat options to their menus. Burger King and White Castle are both offering burger options made with the vegan Impossible Foods patty. Carl’s Jr., Del Taco, and A&W all feature options from Beyond Meat. Dunkin’ Brands also recently announced plans to launch a vegan meat option. In UK locations, Taco Bell will be offering vegan meat made from oats.
Chick-Fil-A has not announced a launch date for its new vegan options, but Norris says development can take up to 24 months, and the chain is already exploring options.
“We’ve kind of been watching it,” she said, “and now we are moving more from the watch stage and getting into that understand, or really imagine stage.”