McDonald's just added a new burger to its menu, but if you live in the U.S., you'll have to travel to try it.
On Thursday, the fast food chain announced the launch of its first burger made with a meatless patty: the P.L.T. The plant-lettuce-tomato sandwich is made with Beyond Meat, a plant-based protein consisting of pea protein, rice protein, mung bean protein, canola oil, coconut oil, potato starch and a variety of seasonings.
Unlike the Impossible burger sold at Burger King, Beyond Meat uses beet juice to achieve a bloody look in its beef substitutes.
The new burger will be tested at 28 restaurants in Ontario, Canada, for a 12-week period starting Sept. 30.
“During this test, we’re excited to hear what customers love about the P.L.T. to help our global markets better understand what’s best for their customers,” Ann Wahlgren, McDonald’s vice president of global menu strategy, said in a press release. “This test allows us to learn more about real-world implications of serving the P.L.T., including customer demand and impact on restaurant operations.”
Like most McDonald's burgers, the P.L.T. will be served on a sesame seed bun with all the usual fixings like pickles, lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup, mustard, a mayonnaise-style sauce and a slice of cheddar cheese (so it's not vegan).
The sandwich retails for 6.49 Canadian dollars (about $4.90), plus tax.
Like Burger King's Impossible patty, the Beyond Meat patty may not be entirely suitable for hardcore vegetarians since it will be cooked on the same grill as other beef burgers, meat-based products and eggs.
This isn't McDonald's first attempt to expand its vegetarian menu options. Back in 2017, it released a vegan burger in Finland. The chain continues to offer several meat-free options in restaurants around the world, especially in places where much of the population does not eat beef.
"We currently offer veggie patties and vegetable-based options in certain markets around the world, such as the Veggie Deluxe (UK), Spicy Veggie Deluxe (UAE), McVegan (Finland and Sweden) and the Big Vegan TS (Germany)," McDonald's spokesperson Lauren Altmin told TODAY Food by email. "At the global level, we’ve been exploring this emerging category."
And McDonald's is not alone.
But the first chain to make a big step in the meat-free direction was Burger King when it rolled out a plant-based burger called the Impossible Whopper in August.
So how do the two plant-based burgers compare?
The Impossible Whopper has 630 calories, 34 grams of fat, 58 grams of carbohydrates and 1,080 milligrams of sodium. The P.L.T. has fewer calories and less fat, clocking in at 460 calories, 25 grams of fat, 42 grams of carbohydrates and 920 milligrams of sodium..
The demand for plant-based food is certainly growing, and Boston-based software company SEMrush recently found that McDonald's is the No. 2 most-searched fast-food chain for vegetarian options worldwide. Social media management platform Sprout Social also recently found that the term "meatless" has been mentioned 37% more times on Twitter this year than it was in 2014.
McDonald's would not confirm whether it's planning to bring the P.L.T to the U.S. by the end of the year.