Dunkin’ Donuts were two words that rarely sprang to mind when thinking of the terms “environmentally friendly” and “healthy.” While the chain has taken strides towards the former with their recent vow to replace their traditional Styrofoam cups with paper alternatives, the fact remains that the Dunkin’ brand is synonymous with quick and relatively non-nutritious mornings on the go. That’s been their livelihood since 1950, and that didn’t seem likely to change. Until now.
The company announced Thursday they’ve partnered with Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat, the first manufacturer of meatless alternatives to burgers to be sold internationally, to market a plant-based alternative to breakfast sausage in a campaign they’ve dubbed The Future of Protein®.
“Beyond Meat has earned the national spotlight for its innovative products and for creating incredible awareness and excitement for the benefits of plant-based meat,” stated Dunkin’ Brands CEO David Hoffman in a press release. “Dunkin’ has always stood apart for offering new and exciting choices to meet the needs of our on-the-go guests, and we are proud to collaborate with this industry leader to become the first U.S. restaurant chain to serve a Beyond Breakfast Sausage option.”
The Canton-based brand isn’t the first fast food retailer to develop a meatless protein alternative. Earlier in May, Burger King announced they planned to roll out their Impossible Whopper at all domestic locations by the end of 2019 after reporting test locations drove sales by 18 percent. And even White Castle—who some of you may remember from extremely poor lapses in judgement—threw their paper hats into the meatless fray by introducing their Impossible Sliders.
But plant-based alternatives to meat aren’t merely a question of offering healthier choices. Proponents say it’s a question of offering a more environmentally friendly, sustainable and humane option that are a far cry from the frozen slabs of mashed chickpeas Americans have witnessed in the past. And with indications that annual U.S. sales exceeded a total of $888 million in a three-year span from 2016 to 2019 (to mention nothing of a $300 million funding round Impossible Foods completed in May with investors including the likes of Jay-Z, Serena Williams and Katy Perry), it looks like meatless burgers may not be the sort of bandwagon-hopping trend cynical naysayers have grumbled about in recent months.
The Beyond Sausage® Breakfast Sandwich went on sale Wednesday at participating stores in Manhattan (of all places for a New England-based brand.) Plans for a national roll out are anticipated by the end of this year.