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Three Fast Food Giants Bolster Their Vegan Menus and at Least One Is Actually Good

The clown takes its McPlant nationwide, while Shake Shack makes its partnership with former meat head Neil Rankin permanent and Burger King beats KFC to vegan nuggets

A vegan burger in a potato bun, layered with vegan cheddar, crispy shallots, and dijon mayonnaise
The vegan burger at Shake Shack, developed by Neil Rankin with roasted mushrooms, miso, and bulgur.
Shake Shack

Beefy burger boys McDonald’s, Burger King, and Shake Shack have all bigged up their vegan offerings this week, following a general trend towards fast food companies basing more things on plants but diverging quite significantly in their strategies.

The clown is taking its McPlant burger — which doesn’t really emulate any of its most famous patties — nationwide. McDonald’s was one mayonnaise replacement away from a decent vegan burger, but it decided to engineer a whole new patty in partnership with a tech meat company (Beyond Meat) instead. Still, it’s not sticking it on a grill covered in beefy oozings like Burger King, who has decided this week to go all in not on a vegan burger, but some faux-chicken nuggets, which means it has somehow beaten the Colonel to the punch.

Shake Shack, meanwhile, is making its tie-up with former Smokehouse and Temper chef Neil Rankin a permanent fixture. Rankin’s Symplicity burger — which had a brief London restaurant as Simplicity Burger and was actually good — comes adorned with crispy shallots, vegan cheese, and vegan mustard mayonnaise. So that’s three big moves in the world of vegan fast food, and at least one is actually worth a look.

Smile, you’re having pizza

Happy Face, which has done good business out of decent pizza in King’s Cross, has expanded to Victoria and will soon open a third restaurant in Brent Cross.

A new year means new Brexit bureaucracy

Speciality importers and exporters of European foods like cheese, charcuterie, and even fruit and vegetables are facing even more burdensome Brexit customs checks from 1 January, and as in 2021, the amount of paperwork required is leaving small businesses with a tough choice between higher administrative costs and trimming their selections.