Is McDonald’s vegan menu growing?
In China, the fast-food giant just added new plant-based pork items to its breakfast menu. However, it’s unclear if any or all of the dishes are entirely vegan, or simply contain plant-based meat alongside non-vegan food.
As of March 24, the fast-food chain now has five new items on its breakfast menus in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen that prominently feature plant-based meat. In this case, it’s OmniPork—vegan ground pork made from pea, soy, shiitake mushroom, and soy protein.
The exciting news was confirmed by David Yeung, OmniFoods CEO and co-founder, who took to LinkedIn on Wednesday to announce this “ground-breaking monumental milestone for plant-based in China.”
“Today McDonald’s Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are launching five breakfast menu items featuring OmniPork. This collaboration is long anticipated after last October’s launch in Hong Kong and Macau,” Yeung wrote.
Yeung went on to thank McDonald’s China for “making this impactful collaboration become reality.”
He added: “By introducing tasty and sustainable menu innovation, the planet, our animal friends along with many new-generation customers will be overjoyed to sing ‘Ba da ba ba ba….I am lovin’ it.’”
McDonald’s China’s Vegan Pork Breakfast Menu
A picture of the new additions to McDonald’s breakfast menu in China confirms that all of them prominently feature OmniPork Luncheon. All menu items are vegetarian.
One item features a piece of OmniPork in a wrap with scrambled eggs, cheese, and a hashbrown, while another is a breakfast plate complete with a large piece of OmniPork Luncheon, eggs, a hashbrown, and bread.
There are also two sandwiches, both featuring the Luncheon meat. One boasts a sunny-side-up egg and cheese on an English muffin, while the other contains Luncheon and scrambled eggs on a bun. The fifth and final item isn’t shown.
McDonald’s Hong Kong’s History With Plant-Based Pork
As Yeung noted in his statement, this collaboration comes several months after McDonald’s locations in Hong Kong and Macau launched a vegetarian menu centered around OmniPork.
More specifically, that meat-free menu centered around OmniPork Luncheon, a vegan alternative to SPAM.
The vegetarian items in that release included two paninis that were prepared with OmniPork Luncheon as well as egg and cheese.
“This is not a limited time offer, not a limited shop offer. This is long term for all of Hong Kong and Macau,” Yeung said at the time. “I’ve got to say this is the most monumental plant-based protein collaboration with a QSR [quick service restaurant]. No question this is the biggest in Asia, and absolutely one of the biggest in the world. This is groundbreaking.”
The Plant-Based Fast-Food Industry Is Growing
McDonald’s locations in the UK, Germany, Norway, Finland, and Sweden already have vegan options and the Golden Arches began testing its vegetarian McPlant burger in Denmark and Sweden in January.
That meatless burger is made with a pea protein-based patty from California-based food tech company Beyond Meat. The burger features lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, mustard, and ketchup, as well as conventional mayonnaise and cheese. McDonald’s also prepares the patty on shared equipment.
The McPlant was trialed in Sweden until March 15 and is slated to remain in Denmark until April 12.
In 2020, McDonald’s tested a Beyond Burger (also made with Beyond Meat) at 52 locations in Ontario, Canada, sharing that it would help the chain better understand the “real-world implications” of serving a plant-based option.
Other international vegan menu offerings include a pea-based veggie goujon wrap, which the chain offers in the UK. And McDonald’s Germany launched a “Big Vegan TS” burger, which features Nestlé’s plant-based Incredible Burger patty.
And in perhaps the biggest vegan fast-food development in recent months, McDonald’s was one of several fast-food chains that partnered with Beyond Meat in February in an effort to expand its plant-based menu offerings. Beyond Meat will be the chain’s preferred supplier of its McPlant patty for at least the next three years. Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC are also part of the partnership.
According to a press release shared at the time, Beyond Meat and McDonald’s joined forces to “explore co-developing other plant-based menu items.” The meatless options will include plant-based pork, chicken, and egg as part of a larger McPlant menu.
Beyond Meat’s global partnership with Yum! Brands—the parent company of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut—will help the chains’ to expand their plant-based protein menu items as well.
“We’re excited about the long-term potential plant-based protein menu items have to attract more customers to our brands, especially younger consumers,” Chris Turner, Yum! Brands CFO, explained in a press release.
Editor’s note March 25, 2021: This article has been updated with details on the new menu items.