Nando’s is launching vegan chicken tomorrow, marking the South African chain’s first meat-free meat option in the UK.
Called “The Great Imitator,” the plant-based chicken is made from pea protein and comes in four strips made to look like the peri-peri filets served at the restaurant. It will be listed under the “Burgers, Pittas, and Wraps” section of the menu. According to Nando’s, its wraps are not vegan as they contain small traces of shellac, an ingredient derived from a type of insect.
Because the plant-based chicken will be cooked on a shared grill with meat, Nando’s is not labeling the option vegan due to cross-contamination. But, The Great Imitator is free from animal products, right down to the sauce. Starting this week, the restaurant is also replacing the mayonnaise and lightly-spiced yogurt mayonnaise in its wraps and sandwiches with vegan “peri-naise” sauce.
The new menu item follows the launch of “The Great Pretender” burger in all 270 Nando’s Australian locations. Made from pea and wheat protein, the meat-free chicken was trialed at Queensland locations before rolling out to menus nationwide.
Nando’s Head of Food, Mario Manabe, said in a statement that plant-based chicken caramelized and smells like a real filet when cooked. It was also well-received at test locations: “Sensory testing showed us that those who’d never eaten plant-based meat alternatives or were perhaps a bit hesitant to give ‘fake meat’ a go, really liked the Great Pretender and said they’d eat it again.”
Nando’s Commits to Lower Carbon Emissions
According to Nando’s, the new options are part of the chain’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. Over the summer, the chicken chain committed to achieving an absolute zero in carbon emissions by 2030 through reduction, rather than through carbon offsetting.
It plans to do this by switching to renewable energy and increasing plant-based options on the menu. Producing 100 grams of chicken meat emits 4.3 kilograms of CO2 equivalent on average compared to .36 kilograms for peas, according to Our World in Data.
Nando’s also partnered with several organizations, including Compassion in World Farming, FAI Farms, and the Soil Association on a new chicken welfare policy, which will include transitioning to a breed “that is naturally slower growing.” Eighty-one percent of chicken worldwide is produced through factory farming.
Nando’s new vegan chicken launches nationwide tomorrow.