Dining

Can California's Veggie Grill Challenge McDonald's Burger Empire?

This vegan fast-casual chain is aiming to beat traditional fast food at its own game
Vegan Chain Veggie Grill Takes on McDonald's
Photo: Courtesy of Todd Porter and Diane Cu-Porter

Unless you live on the West Coast, you may not have heard of vegan fast-casual chain Veggie Grill. But, thanks to a recent $22 million dollar investment, that's about to change.

Veggie Grill opened its first restaurant in 2006 and, over the past decade, has added an additional 27 locations spread throughout California, Oregon and Washington State. Now, the 100 percent animal-product-free mini empire plans to double that number in the next four years, hopping on America's growing interest in sustainable eating and health-conscious quick bites, and, as Business Insider says, even daring to challenge McDonald's market domination.

And with the introduction of the game-changing meatless Beyond Meat burger, available today at all Veggie Grill spots, that lofty dream a might soon become a reality.
 

 

A photo posted by Veggie Grill (@veggiegrill) on


Beyond Meat is a California-based company that touts its signature product, the Beyond Burger, as "the world’s first plant-based burger that looks, cooks and tastes so much like fresh ground beef." It's the brainchild of founder and CEO Ethan Brown, and counts financial heavyweights like Bill Gates and Twitter's Biz Stone among its backers. Veggie Grill serves up the juicy plant-protein patty on a classic sesame bun and tops it with grilled onions, vegan American-style "cheese," tomato, iceberg lettuce and a house-made special sauce. So, yes, it's basically a Big Mac—minus all the delicious, artery-clogging goodness.

"Our goal is to bring the Beyond Burger—and the benefits of delicious, plant-based protein—to as many people as possible," Brown says in a press release. “Like Beyond Meat, Veggie Grill’s consumer base includes the large and growing market of flexitarian consumers who seek plant-based meats as a way to enjoy the traditional dishes they love without the downsides of animal protein.”

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"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," VG CEO Steve Heeley tells the online news site. "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."

The iron couldn't be hotter for Veggie Grill to strike. Thanks to millennials, the country is undergoing a vegetarian fast-casual boom, and this trend happens to coincide with a widely reported drop in traditional fast-food sales.

Hang on to your nuggets, Ronald. The vegans are coming for you.

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