Plant-based food from KFC, McDonalds, Burger King may not be healthy

Beyond Fried Chicken is served with a choice of your favorite KFC dipping sauce– Honey BBQ, Ranch, Honey Mustard and KFC Sauce. It is available as KFC’s first-ever plant-based combo meal with Secret Recipe Fries and a medium drink, or à la carte in six or 12-piece orders. Prices start at $6.99, tax extra, and may vary by location.

When “Beyond Fried Chicken” was added to Louisville-based Kentucky Fried Chicken‘s menu on Jan. 10, it became instantly clear that plant-based meat alternatives had gone mainstream.

“We couldn’t be prouder to partner with KFC to offer a best-in-class product that not only delivers the delicious experience consumers expect from this iconic chain but also provides the added benefits of plant-based meat,” said Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat.

Made with pea protein and flavored with KFC’s signature “finger-lickin’ good” seasonings, the Beyond Fried Chicken menu item is the most recent addition to “on-the-go” faux meat offerings such as The Impossible Whopper at Burger King, Chipotle’s plant-based chorizo, Impossible Breakfast Sandwich at Starbucks and Taco Bell’s Veggie Power Menu Bowl and the Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme.

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Not to be outdone, other fast-food giants promising faux meat items in the future include McDonald’s (McPlant Burger,) Panda Express (Orange Chicken) and Little Caesars Pizza (meatless pepperoni pizza.) 

Burger King's Impossible Whopper.

And while plant-based fast food sounds like a healthy alternative to big beefy burgers and crispy fried chicken, before you rush full speed to the drive-thru, Jennifer Kyser, a registered dietitian at Norton Healthcare Weight Management Center, suggests you pump the brakes. 

“I think you need to have a good understanding of why you choose to eat these plant-based products. Many people don’t consume animal products for ethical, environmental and health reasons,” Kyser told The Courier Journal. “But if you are eating meatless products as a substitute for whole foods, like salad, a sweet potato or a banana, be aware that some plant-based products are highly processed and higher than you might think in calories and sodium. In that regard, it’s a mistake to assume plant-based is healthier than whole foods or animal products.” 

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