Major metropolitan cities around the United States have adopted plant-based food restaurants as an alternative to traditional burger joints, indicating a shift in the fast food market towards meat substitutes.
Plant-based foods have been consistently trending over the past two years as consumers have become more health-focused. However, for the most part, plant-based foods were limited to meat products like Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger. Now, other brands like TiNDLE and Daring have begun to make chicken alternatives, while Just Egg produces egg alternatives, Oatly provides oat milk, and Ripple makes pea milk. Restaurants are looking to expand their offerings with these products, boasting a host of sandwiches, milkshakes, sauces, and desserts that are all vegan.
Projections for the plant-based food market range anywhere from $25 billion to $95 billion in growth by 2030. Plant-based food sales in the U.S. have skyrocketed by more than 54% since 2019, which was only disrupted by supply chain issues in 2021, according to the Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA). While only an estimated 3% of the U.S. population identifies as vegan, plant-based options are seen as healthier and more sustainable. The PBFA notes that the market is being driven by those looking to eat less meat because they believe it is better for their health, individuals who are concerned about animal welfare and slaughterhouse practices, and consumers motivated by the meat industry's impact on climate change. And these plant-based food hubs are "planning national domination," says Nation's Restaurant News.
The growth right now is mainly being driven by restaurants on the coasts. In Los Angeles, restaurants like nomoo, Mr. Charlie's, Monty's Good Burger, Plant Power, Honeybee Burger, and Stand-Up Burger are all providing non-meat and vegan alternatives to meat-based American cuisine. And in New York, there are offerings like Visto Burger, Neat Burger, Odd Burger, and PLNT Burger. Many of these chains are also looking to franchise and expand across the country.