When fast-food chains add plant-based ingredients to their menus, they’re typically sold as an alternative: Burger King didn’t stop selling Whoppers when it launched the Impossible Whopper. But now if you visit Chinese chain Dicos and order a breakfast sandwich, it automatically comes with a plant-based egg.
The restaurant chain, which has about 500 locations across the country, is the first major fast food company to swap plant-based ingredients in place of the animal version on multiple items on its menu, including three different breakfast burgers, three bagel sandwiches, and a “Western” breakfast plate. “It’s pretty rare to see outright replacement of an item on a menu, let alone doing it across seven different menu items simultaneously,” says Zak Weston, foodservice and supply chain manager at the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit focused on plant-based food. “As well as doing it across 500 locations.”
The meals aren’t vegan; the chain, which is often compared to KFC, is serving the plant-based egg along with meat (although customers have the option to request a sandwich without meat or mayo). The restaurants also still offer a handful of items with eggs, such as a fried egg. But the restaurant recognized that even with meat as an ingredient, there were environmental benefits to replacing chicken eggs where it could, and decided to make the switch. It makes sense to appeal to flexitarians, says Weston, because most people who are eating plant-based food now aren’t vegan, but people who are choosing to avoid animal products only some of the time, often for health or environmental reasons. “The real market opportunity is omnivores,” he says.