Though veganism is becoming more mainstream, dining out can still be a battle for plant-based eaters.
No one wants to be that person at the table who annoys the waiter with specific dietary requests, but if there aren't any clear vegan options available, it can be hard to find something on the menu that fits into the diet.
TGI Friday's found out just how hungry Americans are for vegan options last month when it conducted a soft launch of the Beyond Burger, a meatless patty that's been heralded for its remarkable likeness to the real thing.
After an eight week trial period at six TGI Friday's restaurants in Boston, Fast Company says the restaurant chain has decided to introduce Beyond Burgers to more than 465 of the casual-dining chain’s outposts beginning this January (here's a list of the seven locations in Minnesota). Which means consumers must have been trying them.
"We tested many concepts and The Beyond Burger was far and away the favorite plant-based burger among both our guests and chefs, making it the ideal addition to our popular Burger Bar," Stephanie Perdue, TGI Fridays Chief Marketing Officer told Plant Based News.
Would you swap out a beef patty for one made of plant protein? Beyond Meat says its burger looks, cooks, and tastes like the real thing – which is why you'll find it in the meat section of the grocery store.
Beet juice gives the patties a red meat appearance, which has led many to remark that the burger actually "bleeds" – something you can't say about most veggie burgers.
"Our belief is that the best way to get people to eat less meat is by giving them what they love – in this case, a juicy delicious burger – without so many of the health, sustainability, and animal welfare downside of a traditional animal-based burger," Beyond Meat's website says.
With more Americans reducing their meat consumption, TGI Friday's partnership with Beyond is a smart move. According to One Green Planet, six percent of Americans are vegan, and more people than ever are open to trying meatless burgers.
It's a trend that is largely driven by millennials; 64 percent have tried meatless burgers versus 28 percent of baby boomers.
Vegan foods also appeal to the health conscious. Heart disease and diabetes are major killers in America, and the CDC says eating a plant-based diet is associated with a decreased risk of many chronic diseases.
Beyond Burgers have about the same calories as an 80/20 beef patty (290 calories in a 4-ounce patty), but they contain zero cholesterol and half the saturated fat. They're also antibiotic, hormone, and GMO-free.
This has been a big year for Beyond Meat. The plant-based company recently partnered with Sysco, the largest food distributor in the U.S., and has teamed up with Kroger to expand the number of grocery stores carrying its products. Click here to find a store that carries Beyond Burgers near you.
Not to mention, climate change activist and Academy Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio has signed on as an investor and advocate.