Fast food restaurants have become essential in the daily lives of many people. But recently, more and more people are avoiding them because of the greasy and high-fat foods. With mainstream fast food restaurants adding vegetarian and vegan options to their menu, like the Beyond Burger a plant based meatless patty, they are looking at a changing landscape – not only in menu but in technological innovations. While no one is going to knock Mickey D’s off the throne just yet, here are the fast food restaurants and companies that are paving the way for the menus of the future.
10. Next Level Burger
True to its name, this burger joint brings the burgers to your table to the next level. It’s not because they boast that their burgers come from an ethical farm or because they’ll serve them just like an expensive restaurant does. It is because their burger is plant-based. Its ingredients are composed of pea protein, yeast extract, and coconut oil. The patty was developed by the creators of the The Beyond Burger over the course of seven years. Through this long process, they were able to make a perfect vegan burger by discovering that the amino acids, lipids, trace elements, carbs, and minerals found in plants are similar to meat’s core components. Their burgers taste and texture are stunningly similar to an actual meat patty. They also added some extra “blood” by adding beet juice extracts to it. This restaurant’s success can’t be overlooked. The founders, Matt and Cierra de Gruyter, have a serious passion for founding America’s first ever 100% plant-based burger joint. The meat industry is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. Worried about the rapid climate change, they developed an idea. Their family was still young but they were willing to risk everything. That idea was to create meat that even avid meat-eaters can’t resist and they know that in this way, they are helping the environment. Now that The Next Level Burger has become a big success, other existing restaurants have started to follow in their foot steps – serving healthy food.
9. Salad and Go
Who says salads can’t be a part of a drive-thru menu? Well, thanks to Salad and Go’s innovativeness, you don’t have to consume a daily donut and coffee for breakfast (and fries, like some people do). Instead, you can have a healthy breakfast conveniently every day. Not to be out-rivalled by other walk-up and drive-thru chains, the Salad and Go management team is making their services as fast and convenient as possible for a better ordering experience. The drive-thru chain serves 48 oz salads, soups, smoothies, and other healthy breakfast foods. This benefits a lot of people from all walks of life: from the health freaks who can now save a lot of time from preparing their uber healthy snacks to couch potatoes who always dream of eating something healthy but are too lazy to prepare them. Interestingly, the idea of this drive-thru chain came about because some of the family members of the Salad and Go founders were struggling with heart problems. It was then that Roushan Christofellis and her husband Tony decided to take on healthier lifestyles. But thanks to their out-of-the-box thinking, instead of opening a healthy restaurant, they opted for opening a drive-thru chain. And, even though they could increase their food’s price, they made their prices comparable to other fast food restaurants to attract more people who choose a healthier option. Owing to their success, they are now expanding elsewhere in the US and they might come soon to a place near you.
8. Cultured South
Cultured South is not serving Beyond Burgers nor any other innovative plant-based meat. Instead, this casual restaurant is a kombucha taproom. Kombucha is what the ancient Chinese referred to as the “immortal health elixir.” It is a fermented tea beverage and has a lot of health benefits. It is rich in probiotics which may help lower anxiety and depression, help manage weight, and help keep the heart in check. Of course, other than kombucha, the restaurant also serves a variety of fermented foods which include kefir (an interesting probiotic drink mixed with herbs and fruits), Jun (a tea similar to kombucha) and vegan cheese. Their taproom also has a variety of delightful flavors: lavender lemon, peach ginger, strawberry mint, elderberry thyme, hibiscus blood orange, and blackberry basil. But if you’re a coffee person and not a tea person (we don’t blame you at all, after all, coffee is life), then they also have the Banjo Cold Brew Coffee on tap. Cultured South is quite new but they tapped an unknown and unique market. It’s only a matter of time that similar food chains in the future follow their trail.
7. Veggie Grill
Just like The Beyond Burger’s healthy patties, Veggie Grill’s burgers are also plant based which primarily consists of pea protein. They also have “chicken” sandwiches on their menu which consists of soy, pea, and wheat protein. You’ll never feel guilty again about finishing your whole burger! As people are getting more and more mindful of their health, they still miss their meaty and juicy burgers, which is definitely one of the reasons why most people revert back to eating meat. It is because the stereotypical vegetarian burger tastes bland and has a totally different texture that avid meat eaters would usually find weird. Because of that, Veggie Grill wanted to break the norm, creating plant-based burger patties that taste as similar as possible to the traditional ones. While a lot of people love eating this plant-based “burger”, Veggie Grill’s menu also includes salads, soups, cake, tacos, nachos, and buffalo wings. Because of increasing demand and popularity, Veggie Grill has opened more chains across the US.
Freshii is way ahead of its vegan food chain rivals. This fast food restaurant has been serving salads, wraps, and bowls for nearly 15 years. Started in Canada in 2005, it now prides itself in having more than 300 franchises worldwide. You might even have seen Freshii in the airport or in one of the Target stores near you. Since it is quickly becoming one of America’s popular fast food chains, McDonald’s partnered with Freshii to help push healthier foods on their menu. Freshii’s mantra is “Eat. Energize.” And being true to its words, Freshii pushes a new healthy item in their menu every 90 days. They also partnered with WE charity back in 2014, meaning that when a customer purchases food from the WE menu, a meal is donated to a child in a WE village in India, Ghana, Ecuador, or Kenya. When you think of its success, you might also consider how its founder started the business. Matthew Corrin was 23-years-old when he was inspired to add some magic to the fresh food industry. Back then, “healthy food” was just all about fresh salad. But Corrin, through his innovativeness, added frozen yogurts, quinoa bowls, wrap platters and fresh-pressed juice to the menu. Thanks to him being ahead of the curve in the health business, eating healthy is not a fad anymore but instead has become a lifestyle.
5. Impossible Foods
Due to The Beyond Burger’s success, the race for the best vegan burger has started. While not a restaurant, Impossible Foods joined the battle in the search for an innovative vegan food that could be loved by avid carnivores, too. Included in their menu are the savoroso vegan taco, “meat” filled empanadas, sizzling morning sandwiches, meatballs, bella pizza, meaty cheese fries, Chinese baos and of course their impossibly juicy burgers. Their aim is not only to provide consumers with something filling for both vegans and non-vegans but also to get as many nutrients as possible from the food they eat. While The Beyond Burger boasts of their “meat that bleeds,” Impossible Foods prides itself on their “aromatic meat.” Now, these food giants really know how to attack our senses. Impossible Foods’ mission is to help save the planet by reducing the destructive footprint that the animal agriculture industry has created. But they know they can’t just discourage people from consuming meat because, hey, meat is delicious. So, instead, they developed a healthier and more sustainable alternative: plant-based meat. If more and more people are choosing the healthier option, then they are also helping lower global pollution. That rivalry between the two health giants, The Beyond Burger and Impossible Foods, is not that bad after all! Instead, they are battling for a position to see who is the better contributor for the future of our environment.
4. Cafe X
There are some people worrying that as technology advances, robots might start to take jobs away from the people. Not only that, but robots don’t complain or take a lot of breaks, and they’re also faster and more efficient compared to humans. Many restaurants have tried to integrate technology as part of their working staff, and most of them failed. But not Cafe X. Many question if a robot can really make a quality cup of coffee but indeed, many customers gave rave reviews. Starting to serve people in 2017, the Cafe X robot did not fail. It took orders from the customers and focused on serving the coffee to them – all in just six steps and done in a few seconds. No more grumbling grumpy coffee-deprived customers! Well, it better be efficient, considering that a robot costs around a whopping $25,000! And oh, it has one more feature: it’s a “ta-dah!” gesture right after it serves the finished coffee to the customer. Could it be that this robot could put baristas out of business in the future? Maybe, but for now, we can still enjoy another human being’s warm smile and a nice “Have a good day!” gesture that comes with our cup of coffee.
3. By Chloe
If you are a foodie and a social media buff rolled into one, then By Chloe is a must visit. It’s not just another vegan food place serving healthy food, but the whole setup itself is optimized for social media. You might call their food #instafood #instagood with all the bright colors, attractive interior designs, and tempting menu. Their unique menu consists of their own striking versions of Fenway Nachos, pasta, mac and cheese, shiitake bacon and according to Testing Table, their “hard to put down” veggie burger. Thanks to their success and creative marketing innovativeness, they don’t have to do a lot of traditional marketing. It is their customers themselves who will do the marketing for free by sharing beautiful Instagram pictures of their food. Words spread like wildfire on social media and thanks to that, the By Chloe management group opened another Middle-eastern style vegetarian restaurant with similar vibrant dishes. By Chloe’s motto is “Eat Well. Eat with Purpose.” So like the other healthy fast food restaurants, their aim is to help reduce as much of their carbon footprint as possible. For them, eating well is just not about eating healthy but also being mindful of the positive impact of consuming healthy food.
Eatsa is another food chain that is ahead of its time. Hungry customers can place their order on the iPad on display inside the shop. Although cashiers were replaced by tablet screens, human workers still prepare and cook these orders in the back. Customers can then wait for their food in the order-fill station which is an automated cubby. The place almost looks like a giant vending machine. An overhead screen (just like in the airport) will show whose food is ready with its corresponding cubbyhole. The cubby’s lid is also made of an LCD screen and it shows instructions on how to handle the food. The whole process requires zero human interaction and is very efficient. Their system also remembers every customer’s order and preferences, making it easier for the return customers to order. Their aim is to “democratize access to nutritious food,” that’s why customers can choose their own ingredients for their quinoa bowl. The menu also consists of appetizers and side dishes. This setup is perfect when you are in a hurry but you still want to eat healthy food.
1. The Herbivorous Butcher
The Herbivorous Butcher is a vegan butcher shop owned by siblings Kale and Aubry Walch. Wait, a vegan butcher? Yes, you heard that right, a butcher shop but without the slaughter. It’s actually a vegan shop that started at home. Aubry was the first vegan of the two siblings and for years, she was experimenting with making her own meat alternatives. Growing up in Guam, she infused the Guam style traditional cooking into her own vegan recipes. As Kale saw her progress, he was also inspired to switch to veganism. As a meat eater for years, he made the recipes as similar as possible to the tastes of real meat. The idea of opening a vegan shop just came out of the blue during their food-related conversations amongst their family. But the siblings took that idea seriously due to their concern for the environment. They believed that their business could help increase awareness of the advantages of going vegan. And the rest is history. Now, their menu has an array of healthy selections; from vegan meat jerky to sausages, burgers to cheeses, and a whole lot more.