6 Ways KFC Became The Fast Food Giant That Embraced Alt Protein

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From dishing out plant-based chicken nuggets to participating in a 100% meat-free week movement, KFC is quickly making a name for itself as the restaurant chain that is embracing alternative proteins. As consumer demand for more sustainable, safer and healthier options grows, the fast food giant is taking the lead to ignite much needed change in the massive fast food industry by taking risks and working with innovators in the food tech space from Quorn to Beyond Meat. Here’s how KFC has been shaking things up. 

1. KFC Hong Kong partners with Green Monday to roll out meatless options including Alpha Foods nuggets and Gardein chik’n patties

Source: KFC HK / Green Queen Media

In partnership with Hong Kong’s Green Monday, KFC Hong Kong recently added two new meat-free options to its menu across selected outlets in the city – the New Era Nugget and New Era Burger – sold for near price parity with its conventional animal-based counterparts. The nuggets are made from Alpha Foods’ plant-based chicken nuggets that contain soy and wheat protein, while the burger is made from Gardein’s chick’n patty, which contains soybeans, wheat protein, pea protein, organic grains and vegetables. 

2. A KFC branch in Rotterdam went a whole week without selling animal meat, using only Quorn products

As part of the national Week Without Meat initiative, which took place earlier in March, a branch of KFC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands replaced all items on its menu with vegetarian and vegan Quorn products. The company said that it took part in the campaign to raise awareness about the positive impact from reducing meat consumption, from its health benefits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

3. KFC China partnering with Cargill for plant-based nuggets & Beyond Meat to launch vegan burger patties

Source: Yum China / China Plus

After Yum China, the group that operates KFC in China, rolled out plant-based chicken nuggets made by agribusiness giant Cargill, it announced another collaboration with Beyond Meat to introduce Beyond Burgers in select locations across the country, tapping into China’s fast-growing plant-based market.

4. Beyond Fried Chicken nuggets are being served up across the U.S. 

KFC has been working with plant-based food tech Beyond Meat to offer flexitarians and vegans options at more locations across the country. After initially launching in Atlanta, the plant-based chicken nuggets have been made available to Nashville and Charlotte residents, and has most recently been introduced to Southern California too. 

5. KFC is developing 3D bioprinted lab-grown chicken nuggets in Russia

Source: KFC

In July, KFC announced that it will be collaborating with Russian company 3D Bioprinting Solutions to develop bioprinted lab-grown chicken. The new lab-grown chicken nuggets are slated to debut in Moscow later this year and are made with both plant material and cultured animal cells. The company says that it will be a world’s first, and is part of KFC’s ongoing plans to reduce their environmental footprint and become a “restaurant of the future”.

6. Plant-based Lightlife sandwiches are now on the permanent menu at all KFC Canada locations 

KFC Canada has added plant-based chicken sandwiches made from Lightlife’s vegan chicken to its permanent menu nationwide. The sandwich is prepared in a separate fryer to ensure no cross-contamination, and features mayonnaise (that can be subbed-out for other vegan-friendly sauces). 

Lead image courtesy of KFC / Beyond Meat.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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