Burger King’s plant-based chicken nuggets caught our eye at the start of the year and got us thinking. Do all these plant-based options on QSR menu’s mean we can still indulge in our guilty pleasures without compromising on our personal environmental goals?

In-fact, it’s not just us who are thinking about our impact on the environment; 63% of the UK’s 11-18-year-olds believe that the environment and climate change is one of the most important issues for this country to address1. Given this generation are our future customer base, it makes sense for brands to start implementing plans to help combat the climate crisis. 

So, what are some of the UK’s biggest QSR brands doing in this space to minimise their impact?

Burger King

With the average UK diet producing 2.3x more greenhouse gas emissions than a plant-based diet3, the partnership between Burger King and The Vegetarian Butcher feels like a step in the right direction. Burger King’s prospect of a 50% plant-based menu is exciting and something we’ll be keeping an eye on. However, with only three defined plant-based food options currently on the menu, the goal of a 50% plant-based menu means there’s still plenty to do ahead of 2030.  

Credit: Burger King

Burger King has pledged several environmental commitments in the last year:

  • Achieve a 50% plant-based menu by 20302.
  • Reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions 100% by 20302.
  • Achieve 0% use of single-use plastic by 20252.

What about KFC, the genius PR machine that’s been in overdrive ever since they ran out of chicken? We won’t comment on just how brilliant we think their reactive communications have been, but they’re not one to sit back quietly and watch others push on. So, as they would say, what’s behind the bucket?

The Original Recipe Vegan Burger is also available as a wrap and salad, but it isn’t just about having a great plant-based offering, KFC also highlight this product as a great option if you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint! Quorn themselves have some impressive sustainability commitments to become a net positive company by 2030 and were one of the first brands to introduce carbon footprint labelling on packaging to support more sustainable choices. Now, we might be biased, but we think that’s brilliant!

Credit: KFC

KFC have made commitments to become more sustainable:

  • Be a fully circular, zero-waste business by 20354
  • Be a net-zero carbon business by 20404

The McPlant burger was co-developed with Beyond Meat, who claim their original beyond burgers reduce carbon emissions by 90% when compared to a traditional 1/4 lb US beef burger6. If it tastes half as good as that sounds, we’re in!

McDonald’s also acknowledge what a large business they are and play on the ‘change a little, change a lot’ ethos5, making changes such as re-using their cooking oil to make biodiesel. 1,400 restaurants, 130,000 crew members, 23,000 farmers, and 4 million daily customers mean their small changes could have huge impacts.

Credit: McDonalds

McDonald’s have also opted to match KFC’s commitment along with some of their own environmental practices: 

  • Be a net-zero emissions business by 20405.
  • By 2023 have launched a nature positive programme5
  • By 2025 have regenerative agriculture initiatives in each of their priority supply chains to promote soil health, water management, and biodiversity5.

It’s an interesting point that when companies such as McDonald’s, KFC, or Burger King aim to reduce carbon emissions, they’re not the only people they need to bring on the journey. They need to ensure that every one of their suppliers and partners also follow in their footsteps. A challenge we see throughout foodservice.

Whilst 2040 might seem a long way off, it’s great to see these companies are making genuine commitments to help the environment. These brands might not be the TESLA’s of the food world just yet, but we think it’s safe to say we can pick up our guilty pleasures with a clear conscience and happy heart in the knowledge they’re doing their bit.

Have a cracking day x