The Latest Addition to IKEA’s Menu: Vegan Chicken Nuggets

Photo shows plant-based nuggets on a white plate with an IKEA logo stamped over it

IKEA just introduced two different types of vegan chicken to its restaurant menus.

In the US, the Swedish furniture giant has launched plant-based chicken nuggets as part of a Kids Meal, served with broccoli. In the UK, IKEA updated its menu with plant-based chicken strips, available as part of the Chickenless Strip Meal with fries and a drink.

While IKEA typically produces its own alternative proteins, the company worked with unnamed foodservice partners on the vegan chicken.

IKEA’s introduction of new plant-based menu items is nothing new. Speaking at the pre-event for the UN Food Systems Summit in 2021, representatives announced that 50 percent of its main restaurant meals will be vegan by 2025 in order to improve on sustainability.

In addition to offering more vegan options, IKEA will also ensure 80 percent of its meals are free from red meat by the same date. Furthermore, 80 percent of packaged foods will be plant-based.

“We have already made significant progress towards having more plant-based and non-red meat meals in our restaurants’ global range,” said an IKEA spokesperson at the time. “We know we need to make significantly more progress in terms of a healthier range in global, regional, and market-specific offers.”

From a global perspective, this will mean adding more plant-based ingredients in main meal plates and IKEA’s packaged food. But the company will also evaluate its offers on a regional and local level as well in order to determine modifications it can make and “what delicious new products” it might be able to offer (such as vegan chicken nuggets).

Photo shows the interior of an IKEA restaurant
Over the news few years, IKEA restaurant menus will transition towards more plant-based. | IKEA

Vegan food at IKEA

IKEA already has a head start on reaching its new sustainable food goals. It launched vegan meatballs—featuring an even meatier texture than its classic vegetable-based meatballs—back in 2020. Since then, the retailer has even hinted at the possibility of a 3D-printed version of its popular, signature dish coming at some point in the future.

But IKEA isn’t just interested in stocking these items. The company also aims to make its sustainable and plant-based options more affordable and therefore more desirable to a broader range of its customers, from vegans and vegetarians through to flexitarians and meat-eaters.

Its popular “veggie dog,” introduced back in 2018, is sold at a lower price than the meat-based version at its restaurants. It launched a dairy-free soft serve at its European cafes, priced at just €1 per serving, back in 2019—the same year that UK branches chose not to serve turkey for Christmas in favor of meat-free root vegetable tart and vegan mince pies.

“IKEA wants to make healthy and sustainable choices the most desirable option, by, for example, demonstrating that plant-based food can be really delicious,” said Lena Pripp-Kovac, Chief Sustainability Officer at Inter IKEA Group. She added: “the more sustainable choice shouldn’t be a luxury for the few. It should be part of people’s everyday life.”

Photo shows a man in a blue shirt holding an IKEA veggie dog
The Swedish retailer has been taking gradual steps to introduce more plant-forward menu options. | IKEA

People and planet positive

As well as a strong emphasis on plant-based food, IKEA has introduced several other initiatives to lower its carbon footprint. It kicked off its People & Planet Positive initiative all the way back in 2012, and aims to drastically reduce carbon emissions throughout its entire value chain by 2030.

In order to accomplish this, IKEA has made several pledges with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in mind, including relying more on renewable energy, moving toward a circular economy, eliminating single-use plastic, and sourcing recycled materials for its furniture.

In October of last year, IKEA revealed a new initiative to buy back used furniture—the announcement for which pointedly coincided with Black Friday—across 27 countries.

“We are passionate about making sustainable living easy and affordable for the many, and want to be part of a future that’s better for both people and the planet,” Jennifer Keesson, IKEA sustainability manager, said.

Is IKEA really sustainable? Read on here.