Meatless burger with hands showing fruit

In Brief:

      • Fast-food brands continue to embrace the rise of veganism.
      • Burger King, Dunkin’ and many others keep adding vegan options to their menus.
      • Plant-based protein results in many environmental, health, and ethical benefits.
      • Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are key players in the meatless trend.
      • There are multiple restaurant chains that offer vegan options – entrepreneurs are looking to crack into the market.

Many well-known restaurant brands have begun to catch on to the next big trend in fast-food – veganism. From Burger King’s Impossible Whopper to Dunkin’s Beyond Sausage Breakfast Sandwich, the meatless trend continues to pop up on menus across the nation. In expectation of a potential $35 billion alternative meat market, companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have raised millions in funding behind support from A-list celebrities including Jaden Smith, Jay-Z, and Katy Perry.

Why the Growth in Vegan Options?

Vegan Products Cut Down on the Environmental Impacts that Meat Cultivation Requires

The meat industry places a colossal burden on our environment. Researchers found that beef cattle raised on deforested land results in 12 times as much greenhouse gases and use 50 times more land than cattle allowed to freely graze.

Furthermore, it takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat. To produce one pound of wheat requires a paltry 25 pounds in comparison! As the global population continues to grow, many scientists now agree, a vegan diet is the single greatest way to help protect the environment.

Polar bear stuck on ice

Celebrities continue to speak out against unethical farming practices – consumers are listening

A recent wave of documentaries and awareness campaigns have swept through the societal landscape. Joaquin Phoenix recently narrated two animal cruelty documentaries, Dominion and Earthlings. These documentaries raised the curtains on the horrifying practices that many big corporations employ to maximize profits.

Several celebrities like Miley Cyrus, James Cromwell, and Emily Deschanel have continuously spoken out against the meat industry and are supporters of the media campaign Mercy for Animals. The number of U.S. consumers that identify as vegan rose from 1% in 2014 to 6% in 2017. Plant-based alternatives have grown 17% in the last year alone.

Chicken in cage

Consumers continue to ditch meat for the health benefits

As obesity continues to rise, so have health complications like high blood pressure, heart disease, and various types of cancer. In addition, health insurance premiums are on a steady rise, 4% for single coverage and 5% for family coverage in 2018 alone! Many Americans now look to plant-based food as a viable option to live longer and ultimately cheaper lives.

Vegan diets contain whole-foods like grains, fruits, and vegetables. Studies have shown that vegans tend to be thinner and have a 50-78% lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes. A vegan diet may also be linked to a lower risk of developing cancer and according to some observational studies, vegans have a 42% lower risk of dying from heart disease.

Vegetables on a table

Who are the Biggest Players in the Vegan Industry?

Ethan Brown, The Founder of Beyond Meat

Ethan Brown did not seek fame and fortune when he founded Beyond Meat in 2009. The CEO grew up on his parent’s dairy farm, the first time he understood the amount of work it takes to implement large-scale animal agriculture.

Brown, who has been a vegan for years, understood that the world needed to find an alternative to the resource-heavy, unethical meat industry. After forging a career in the energy sector, Brown founded Beyond Meat to combat the massive ecological footprint that meat entails.

In order to make his dream a reality, the entrepreneur needed not only financial support from VC firms, but also scientific support. Brown discovered the work of two University of Missouri professors who successfully manipulated plant-protein to take on the characteristics of meat.

Brown worked with the pair to refine and license the technology until Beyond Meat was ready to hit stores in 2012 with their Chicken-Free strips. Since that one product went on shelves in a limited selection of northern California Whole Foods, Beyond Meat now sells a variety of vegan sausage, burgers, and beef around the country and nearly every major supermarket. The El-Segundo, California company is now valued at nearly $12 billion and is sold in almost every fast-food restaurant including Carl’s Jr, Dunkin’, and Del Taco!

Beyond burgers in packaging
Photo by: UBC Media Relations via Flickr/creativecommons

Impossible Foods Makes the Impossible Possible

The inception of Impossible Foods began when Stanford biochemistry professor Patrick O. Brown decided to take an 18-month sabbatical from teaching in order to combat intensive animal farming. Similar to Ethan Brown, Patrick Brown decided that to really take a stand, he needed to develop a great-tasting alternative that customers would willingly choose over regular meat – all in the name of climate change.

Brown established Impossible Foods in 2011 and after years of painstaking research, launched the Impossible Burger in 2016. The company claims the Impossible burger requires 95% less land and 74% water. Impossible Foods utilizes leghemoglobin, a molecule found in soy, and a genetically modified yeast to produce a safe product at a much lower environmental cost to the Earth.

Since its humble beginning as a passion project by a Stanford professor, Impossible Foods has raised over $687.5 million in 12 rounds of funding and is now worth $2 billion. Burger King unveiled their highly anticipated Impossible Whopper in October of this year. You can also find Impossible Foods on menus at The Cheesecake Factory, Fatburger, Hard Rock Café, and Little Caesars among others!

Impossible burger with fries
Photo by: Sarah Stierch via Flickr/creativecommons

As the Vegan Market continues to grow, People keep asking – “How can I Purchase a Fast Food Restaurant?”

Entrepreneurs constantly look for the next big trend to invest in. The vegan industry continues to attract investors daily, spurred on by growing population concerns, environmental dangers, and the myriad of ethical dilemmas that the meat industry causes. As we’ve mentioned, there are many notable fast-food restaurants that offer vegan options on their menus as well as vegan restaurants that continue to sprout up as the trend increases.

Some people choose to open their own restaurants and forge a path through the thousands of more established brands. Others look to the franchise system as a viable alternative. When someone looks to buy a franchise, they buy the license to operate a business under the name and likeness of an established brand.

People use the franchise business model to partner with well-known companies and gain valuable advice from business professionals with years in the industry. The four fast-food franchises that offer vegan options or are completely vegan that are hot on the market are listed below.

Vegan salad with berries


Saladworks serves made-to-order salads, wraps, soups, and sandwiches. The menu is loaded with vegan and vegetarian options that all can enjoy. Saladworks began franchising in 2001 and franchisees now operate 83 locations!  iniinitiakl

  • Approx. Initial Fee: $35,000 (per 2020 FDD)
  • Approx. Startup Cost: $163,724 – $452,292 (per 2020 FDD)
  • Approx. Revenue Range: $365,783 – $1,805,090 (per 2020 FDD)
Saladworks building in usa
Photo by: Rusty Gillespie via Flickr/creativecommons

Burger King

The burger giant may pride itself on delicious burgers, but Burger King has recently found success with the Impossible Whopper. Burger King also offers other vegan options like its Garden Salad, PB&J Jamwich, and Hashbrowns. There are currently an estimated 18,000 Burger Kings in operation and the franchise of one of the most profitable for franchisees.

  • Approx. Initial Fee: up to $50,000 (per 2020 FDD)
  • Approx. Startup Cost: $323,100 – $3,283,600 (per 2020 FDD)
  • Approx. Revenue Range: See FDD

Burger king franchise at night

Copper Branch

The world’s largest vegan restaurant franchise, Copper Branch is based in Montreal, Canada, but offers franchising opportunities in several countries. Founded in 2014, Copper Branch currently operates 30 locations but plans to open 200 new locations by 2020 and 2,000 within the next nine years. The vegan restaurant recently partnered with Compass Group Canada, Canada’s leading foodservice provider to make its vision a reality.

  • Approx. Initial Fee: $40,000 (per 2020 FDD)
  • Approx. Startup Cost: $453,900 – $863,500 (per 2020 FDD)
  • Approx. Revenue Range: See FDD
Copper branch dish
Photo by: April via Flickr/creativecommons


Dunkin’ is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Originally known for its coffee and donuts, Dunkin’ offers a wide array of different breakfast options for people on the go. Dunkin’ launched its Beyond Sausage Sandwich in October and offers a variety of other vegan options. Dunkin’ operates more than 11,300 stores worldwide!

  • Approx. Initial Fee: $40,000 – $90,000 (per 2020 FDD)
  • Approx. Startup Cost: $97,500-$1,597,200 (per 2020 FDD)
  • Approx. Revenue Range: See FDD

Just Call Us Dunkn'

Look for meatless options to pop up on more menus around the country

Even though vegan alternatives are still a fairly new concept for most consumers, the fast-food industry has already begun to jump on the trend. Meatless alternatives use vastly less resources, provide some great health benefits, and combat unethical practices within the meat industry. It’s no wonder companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have grown exponentially in the past decade. Veganism isn’t going anywhere and entrepreneurs are starting to sink their teeth into the bevy of delicious franchise options!

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