I had an interesting conversation with a fellow Vegan about these. She was upset about a few things, as am I. But I have other vegan and vegetarian friends who have happily embraced the new plant based fast food item on the block. Shades of gray. Everyone’s entitled to their interpretation.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s really exciting that fast food corporations are slowly waking up to the fact that more people want to eat plant based, and I’m really happy that companies like Beyond Meat are getting an even bigger seat at this table. However, there are a few things that disappoint me about these products:
They aren’t cooked vegan
That’s right. Much like the Impossible Whopper from Burger King that is broiled on the same line as regular Whoppers, the Beyond Nuggets at KFC are deep fried in the same grease as their chicken. It’s even in the fine print of their ads. This means if you are really vegan, you will likely experience a great deal of GI distress after eating these. To me, that’s just not worth it!
Plant Based is being exploited
Like it or not, this moniker is utilized for financial gain. So many restaurants are jumping on this bandwagon. Just because something is plant based, however, does not mean that it’s vegan. But naming it plant based may increase sales. These are simply the rules of capitalism. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as what you’re selling truly is plant based, but in the case of KFC nuggets, they are not. Know what you are buying. Read the labels and fine print!
Why must vegan products cost so much more? Like the upcharge for plant based milks at Starbucks (which has now been rectified), vegan fast food can be much more costly, with “plant based” combos priced a dollar or more than their meat based counterparts. It just adds another layer to the theory that eating vegan is bougie and unrealistic.
One good thing…
A major redeeming factor in all of these negatives? It gets people who are curious about eating vegan to actually try a plant based product. They may even realize how good it can taste to eat this way! So if it gets someone to shift their diet a bit, perhaps even reaching for the pack of Beyond Burgers instead of beef burgers during their next grocery trip, then I think these products have served their real purpose. It’s like the gateway drug to a vegan lifestyle.
What would make me happy?
In a perfect world, if businesses really wanted to meet the dietary needs and wants of vegans, they would provide real vegan options prepared separately from non-vegan food, and they wouldn’t price them higher than their meat based counterparts. That would make me, and many other vegans, very happy, but I doubt that this is realistic. I don’t often eat fast food, but I would love to have multiple fast food options on road trips! For now, I will force my husband to eat Taco Bell on our next trip down I95, which, ironically, is owned by the same company as KFC.
The lead photo is of my last two chickens who crossed the rainbow bridge in 2018.
Everyone has to navigate shades of gray in life. The fact that I haven’t eaten chicken in 8 years would mean that trying this product would in all likelihood make me feel sick for about a day. To me, that’s just not worth the risk. How do you feel about plant based foods in restaurants that aren’t actually vegan or vegetarian? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.