Burgers

TGI Fridays adding Beyond Burgers to menu

Another restaurant joins the ranks in offering plant-based proteins to the burger menu. Here’s why it’s a problem and how the industry should respond.

Last week, I wrote about McDonald’s introducing the McVegan burger and my concerns that we are losing the battle of debunking the popular but erroneous rhetoric that beef is a major contributor of greenhouse gases.

READ: McDonald's launches McVegan burger

McDonald’s is just one of several food retailers that are following this trend in an effort to meet growing consumer demands, and it’s frustrating to me as a beef producer to know that my options of food establishments I want to support with my dollar seem to be quickly dwindling.

Most recently, TGI Fridays announced it would join the ranks of other restaurants participating in the Meatless Monday campaign.

READ: What does McDonald's sustainability pilot mean for beef producers?

In a recent press release, David Spirito, TGI Fridays executive culinary director, said, “Appealing to a more food-forward consumer is a key priority for Fridays in 2018. In answering guests’ demand for nutritional menu items that fit their lifestyle needs, we saw an opportunity to introduce newly expanded options like plant-based protein. With Beyond Burger, diners will have a sensory experience of a traditional burger without sacrificing taste.”

According to Organic Authority, Beyond Burger is a plant-based protein option made out of peas, beets and coconut oil that is offered by the company, Beyond Meat. Founder Ethan Brown said of the company, “The overall mantra of the company is to continually try to collapse any distinction between our products and animal protein.”

As unsavory as that sounds to me, a 2017 survey revealed that one-third of consumers support seeing Meatless Monday campaigns promoted at fast-food restaurants.

“We’re excited that TGI Fridays, an iconic global restaurant brand, is leveraging Monday as a day to attract consumers to try Beyond Burger and Fridays’ other plant-based selections, without taking meat off their menu,” said Dana Smith, Meatless Monday campaign director, in an interview with Organic Authority. “Our research shows that choosing meatless options, even one day a week, can help make a difference in our personal health and the health of our planet.”

READ: Livestock has smaller environmental impact than previously reported

With the announcement that TGI Fridays will participate in the Meatless Monday campaigns, the restaurant will now offer Beyond Burger entrees at more than 450 of its restaurants nationwide.

America is a great place with an abundance of options for us to choose from; however, this growing movement to go meatless is concerning because I feel consumers are making the decision to forego meat based on poor science and rapidly spreading lies that are truly detrimental to human health and do nothing to help the environment.

The pressure is on for our industry to balance out the conversations. I hope to see an increased focus of checkoff dollars on this growing problem, but closer to home, I hope more producers see fit to post the facts about beef production and the environment on their social media pages in 2018.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

TAGS: Nutrition
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