McDonald’s Runs For Its Money After Bill Gates And Biz Stone Spend Millions In This Vegan Company

It seems that McDonald’s might run for its money in the near future after investors decided to invest $22 million in this vegan company to prepare it for a nationwide expansion. By now, the vegan chain is located in California, Oregon and Washington and plans to double its current size of 28 locations until 2020. This goal might very probably be achieved after it became a partner of Beyond Meat and because of the generous support of many investors such as Bill Gates and the Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. Veggie Grill is on its way to craft plant-based burgers that taste as real beef. This might very well be threatening news to McDonald’s.

Steve Heeley, the CEO of the healthy fast-casual chain Veggie Grill, is betting that its burgers taste as good — or even better — than McDonald’s Big Macs.

There’s one big difference between the two: the former is 100% vegan. Veggie Grill’s burgers are made of pea protein, while its “chicken” sandwich contains soy, pea, and wheat protein.

“Today’s consumer is more mindful and aware that eating a diet made up primarily of veggies, fruits, grains and nuts is better for you,” Heeley — who, predictably, is a vegan — tells Business Insider.

Launched in 2006, Veggie Grill serves fast-casual food that has fewer calories than traditional fast-food items. Its menu includes dishes like tempura green beans and “fish” tacos, with prices ranging from $3.50 to $11.50.

The chain has 28 locations right now, all of which are in California, Washington, and Oregon. But after a $22 million bump from investors, Veggie Grill is preparing for a nationwide expansion. By 2020, it plans to double in size.

Heeley, who previously served as the COO for national chains Baja Fresh and Au Bon Pain, considers Veggie Grill fast-casual rather than fast-food (workers periodically come around to refill drinks, and customers eat on real plates). But its popularity speaks to a larger shift in consumer preferences toward healthier, meat-less options. And the brand is seizing the opportunity to compete with legacy brands like McDonald’s and KFC.

To lure fast-food customers, Veggie Grill is offering several veggie burger options. On December 14, all locations will start selling the Beyond Burger, a plant-based (non-meat) burger made mainly from pea protein, yeast extract, and coconut and sunflower oil.

A long line of investors, including Bill Gates and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, have thrown their support behind Beyond Meat, which seeks to create a burger that tastes exactly beef. In May, Beyond Meat started selling its burger in refrigerated meat aisles at select Whole Foods. (For what it’s worth, the Beyond Burger didn’t quite pass for beef in my taste-test, but it’s the tastiest veggie burger I’ve ever bought from a grocery store.) 

Veggie Grill’s partnership with Beyond Meat makes sense, since both companies aim to get some carnivore converts. 

“If someone wants to eat a burger and fries but move away from fast food and get veggie-centric food, we are a great alternative for them,” Heeley says.

Persuading Americans to eat less meat is definitely an uphill battle — Americans are still among the highest per capita eaters of meat in the world., But that might change, since the amount of meat US consumers eat has been slowly declining. Other salad-centric chains, like Freshii and Sweetgreen, and vegan chains, like Choices Café and Ecorazzi, have found success in recent years, too. 

If vegan food startups can craft plant-based burgers that taste as delicious as real beef (and get their prices down), they may give McDonald’s a run for its money.

Source: businessinsider.de!

57 comments

  1. Christine Hahn Reply

    If the R&D and Marketing Depts of McDonald’s had half a brain, they would be introducing vegan and veggie burgers into the standard menu ASAP.

  2. Christine Hahn Reply

    True, but sometimes Maccas’s is the only thing open (especially in regional Australia, where every other shop is closed after 2pm on Saturday, and hardly open at all on Sunday). So just to have the options….

  3. Abby Alcocer Reply

    Can you imagine having it come to Texas. I would be on could 9 and be so happy. There are way to many Burger joints down here.

  4. Brent Reed Reply

    Glad to know that Bill Gates has enough money to waste on a start up that only caters to a very small segment of society. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the idea and I’d probably give it a try, just seems to be still very niche-y to me.

  5. Shabana Aziz Reply

    I used to have Veggie Grill when I lived in CA for a short time & they blow gross McDonalds out of the water. Some may not like that they resemble meat, but it’s better than having people eat those poor, innocent animals & also harming the environment. But of course, this is the internet & there always has to be a bunch of negative or ignorant opinions.

  6. Megan Reply

    Awesome news but please fix your grammatical error. “McDonald’s might to run for its money”. It’s the first sentence.

  7. Pauline Dunlop Reply

    I ordered a veggie burger at McD. Sat down to eat and almost vomited. They had given me a chicken burger by mistake and I didn’t even think to look before munching in!
    Will NEVER buy anything to eat from them again 🙁

  8. Fiona Henderson Reply

    For some people they do actually miss the taste of meat. I’m vegan but I struggle to eat vegetables and plants. So anything that helps people stay vegan in my opinion can only be a good thing.

  9. Lesley McCray Rice Reply

    The wisdom of being vegan is gaining much more momentum and this will not be considered ‘niche-y’ soon, I hope. It will be a very welcome addition to the piss poor opportunities vegans have to dine out currently.

  10. Stephanie Cafasso Reply

    Fiona Henderson I agree with you that more vegan options are awesome but…. if this company can make a veggie burger that tastes just like beef then they sure as hell can make a veggie burger that doesn’t have any beef relation and yet still tastes just as a delicious. I took one bite of the beyond burger and it tasted like greasy animal parts. The smell was even worse.

  11. Stephanie Cafasso Reply

    Actually….. he’s investing in the future of our planet. The meat industry is the #1 cause for climate change – this isn’t a “niche” this is what’s best for the future of Earth.

  12. Laura Smith Jodice Reply

    I agree BUT for someone who loves meat and would have a hard time transitioning, a product like this is amazing.
    This is a wonderful thing and a huge step in the right direction. This should be celebrated!

  13. Laura Smith Jodice Reply

    Stephanie Cafasso I don’t enjoy it either, id much rather my homemade black bean burger but for someone who ate meat and now doesn’t because of a product like this? Amazing.
    People love greasy, fatty meat. This product is a great alternative for those folks.

  14. Lindsay Hawco Reply

    It’s also a good compromise sometimes when wanting to go out with non-veg friends! But when I went vegan I missed McDonalds burgers for probably a year, and I hardly even ate them, maybe one Big Mac a year and it was so ingrained that it was like a chemical addiction. I would support this establishment if it was where I live. I loved the taste of meat but ethically I can’t support it anymore.

  15. Lindsay Hawco Reply

    Where I live it’s really been Netflix showing documentaries that contradict our conventional way of life that has been turning more and more people to the veg side, present company included, and it’s really helped open my eyes to a lot of horrors in the world. I think it’s a great investment and it’s not like he’s hurting for cash or doesn’t invest in other things or charities.

  16. Laura Smith Jodice Reply

    Lindsay Hawco well said! Your taste buds have changed I’m sure like mine. I loved meat too now it’s repulsive to me, I don’t even consider it food. Crazy how programmed we were!

  17. Alan McLennan Dickson Reply

    Dito and appreciated!
    Here’s one you might be able to help with, I tried finding nuts, any nuts I could without non recyclable packaging, only thing I found was tiny wee snack size packets.
    Any stores or grocers you find to be better in general?

  18. Alan McLennan Dickson Reply

    Just phoned Tesco and Morrisons with these questions

    Other than presentation, why do items like spring onions come in plastic packaging and packaging that cannot be recycled (own products) given fruit and veg being a natural healthy choice for customers.

    Why are a number of products, again own make, without any labelling at all regards recycling. Especially these companies are supposedly championing environmental issues such as food waste.

    Why is there not an exclusively recyclable section in store for customer convenience and satisfaction

    Tesco seemed to be more on the ball and said there has been a lot a lot of feedback on these points.

    I’m awaiting a reply from both to explain if not why not 🙂

    Gave me a bit of entertainment while I made my porridge lol….who’s next!!!!

  19. Alan McLennan Dickson Reply

    Just phoned Tesco and Morrisons with these questions

    Other than presentation, why do items like spring onions come in plastic packaging and packaging that cannot be recycled (own products) given fruit and veg being a natural healthy choice for customers.

    Why are a number of products, again own make, without any labelling at all regards recycling. Especially these companies are supposedly championing environmental issues such as food waste.

    Why is there not an exclusively recyclable section in store for customer convenience and satisfaction

    Tesco seemed to be more on the ball and said there has been a lot a lot of feedback on these points.

    I’m awaiting a reply from both to explain if not why not 🙂

    Gave me a bit of entertainment while I made my porridge lol….who’s next!!!!

  20. Amber Perry Reply

    A lot of Burger Kings have veggie burgers.. It’s a Morning Star patty, and even if the patty is vegan, it isn’t once they get the mayo on it. (not to mention those buns toasted with butter) .. Honestly even if fast food chains like that offered vegan options, I wouldn’t go there. Their people aren’t trained properly and/or just don’t care about throwing a veggie patty on the grill to soak up the meat juice. Most people don’t realize what will happen if a non-meat eater does end up eating meat!

    The only ‘fast food’ I do are Which Wich and Moe’s, because they don’t share their chip fryer, and their kitchens are open so you can see when they clean equipment, as well as being able to see everything going into your food. (so in the off chance someone got a huge glob of sour cream in the guac, you know to skip it that time around!)

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