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Fast food giant Burger King U.K. has launched a brand new chicken-free Vegan Royale burger and re-introduced the Plant-Based Whopper to its menus in the country. Teaming up with The Vegetarian Butcher to roll out the new items, Burger King says the move is part of its push to cater to its growing flexitarian and vegan customer base.
Burger King has introduced new 100% vegan options across its U.K. locations, adding a Vegan Royale and bringing back the Rebel Whopper, this time calling it the Plant-Based Whopper. The chain, which is the second largest QSR burger restaurant in the country and operated by private equity firm Bridgepoint, has partnered with Unilever subsidiary The Vegetarian Butcher to supply the new products.
While the Vegan Royale features a crispy breaded plant-based chicken patty and is topped with iceberg lettuce and egg-free mayonnaise on a toasted sesame bun, the Plant-Based Whopper is made with a vegan beef patty and topped with sliced onions, tomatoes, lettuce, vegan mayonnaise and ketchup.
The Vegan Royale is sold for £2.49 (US$3.46) at price parity with its conventional chicken counterpart, while the Plant-Based Whopper is sold for as low as £1.99 (US$2.76) on Mondays as part of a Meat Free Monday promotion.
The Rebel Whopper first landed in U.K. locations in January last year, but was removed during Covid-19 shutdowns and has since been reformulated to ensure that the entire preparation process is more vegan-friendly. The Vegan Royal is cooked completely separate from meat, dairy and egg products to avoid cross-contamination, and has been certified by the Vegan Society. According to the FAQ section on the Burger King UK website, “the Plant-Based Whopper® is plant-based, however it is cooked on the same broiler as our original Whopper® to delivery the same unique flame-grilled taste and therefore the product not certified by the Vegan Society®.”
We would go as far as to say it’s an identical taste experience to the original Chicken Royale.Soco Nunez, Marketing Director, Burger King U.K.
Burger King U.K. marketing director Soco Nunez says that the company has “purposefully taken our time” to ensure that the new products are the “best on the market”.
In an announcement in March of this year, the U.K. chain pledged that 50% of its menu would be plant-based by 2031.
Commenting on the new Vegan Royale offering, Nunez said: “We would go as far as to say it’s an identical taste experience to the original Chicken Royale.”
Ensuring that its new plant-based products are 100% vegan-friendly takes Burger King U.K. a step further than its global franchise operators, whose new plant-based menu items often feature conventional mayonnaise and are cooked on the same grill.
Dawn Carr, director of vegan corporate projects at PETA, commended the chain for working with the Vegan Society to obtain certification and offer greater transparency to its customer base.
“From bun to mayo to patty, all the ingredients in the new Plant-Based Whopper and Vegan Royale are completely animal-free,” said Carr. “So they’re sure to be a hit with the U.K.’s growing number of vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians.”
They’re sure to be a hit with the U.K.’s growing number of vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians.Dawn Carr, Director of Vegan Corporate Projects, PETA
According to data from the recent E.U.-funded Smart Protein study, the U.K. plant-based meat market is among the region’s most highly valued at €502 million (approx. US$470 million). The U.K. is also home to the world-famous Veganuary campaign, which saw record levels of participation this year and has convinced more than 85% of pledgers to make their newfound plant-forward diets a long-term habit.
The move by the U.K. franchise is aligned with the burger chain’s global push to capitalise on the plant-based trend across all its markets. In Canada, Burger King has partnered with food tech giant Impossible Foods to launch the Impossible Whopper nationwide, while Australian startup v2food supplies the Plant-Based Whopper in South Korea, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand.
V2food also supplies its plant-based patties in New Zealand, where the burger is branded the Rebel Whopper, and at Burger King sister franchise Hungry Jack’s in Australia.
October 20, 2021 Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the UK Plant-Based Whopper is cooked on a separate surface and is certified by the Vegan Society. This is incorrect. Only the Vegan Royale is fully vegan, while the Plant-Based Whopper is cooked on the same surface as animal meat whoppers are. We regret the error.
Lead image courtesy of Burger King.