Is the McPlant coming in 2021?

This month, McDonald’s announced it is ready to start rolling out its new ‘McPlant’ meat-free burger when “markets are ready”.

This has led some to speculate the burger will see its debut some time in early 2021, as more countries show ever-promising vaccine results and the likelihood of a return to normality increases. Excuse the pun – there may well be an appetite for change.

Although the company has not confirmed who will be providing its patties, Beyond Meat, another plant-based patty producer, has claimed it co-created the burger with McDonald’s.

Earlier this month – coincidentally – I also tried my first Beyond Meat burger, which is shamelessly pictured below:

Though there was a slightly different taste, the burger was amazingly convincing, especially in the way it cooked. I finished my meal asking myself why more fast-food chains don’t have the gall to just replace their popular burgers with meat-free substitutes; who buys a McDonald’s for the quality of the meat?

If each town had a cow that they slaughtered each winter and ate as part of a great feast, the world wouldn’t have a problem. Here is the rub which those who have a concern for climate change, but enjoy meat face. We live in a world where the US has imported 1,065,942 tonnes of beef in 2020, with the UK importing some 190,000 tonnes itself. 

The story of meat-induced deforestation doesn’t need to be retold at this point; it’s clear that our vast overconsumption of meat isn’t doing the planet any favours. Both the livestock and their feed take up huge swarths of overseas land and deprive natural species from flourishing.

Of all our cuisines, surely the fast-food industry should be the ones spearheading the change in this space. The sheer scale of the organisations like McDonald’s championing a meat-free burger a could have a real impact on the way we look at our relationship with meat, where we enjoy quality correctly priced local produce.  It is a win win win for our farmers, taste buds and the climate.

Talking even to my grandparents about their childhoods, just one or two generations back, meat was seen more of luxury to be savoured, not a necessity in every dish. Perhaps in the future we might adopt a similar viewpoint – we now have the option to make convincing substitutes, so why not save the proper stuff for the special occasions?

The fast food giant this week confirmed it was now ready to start rolling out the McPlant when “markets are ready” – with the expectation some countries would launch the meat alternative product in 2021.

By Rebecca Garland on 30/11/2020