The fast food world is changing quicker than any other food industry. Just five years ago, fast food companies embracing vegan options would sound like a distant dream. But now, the industry is leaning into the plant-based movement with major players such as McDonald’s and KFC introducing permanent plant-based and meatless menu options for customers. Alongside the vegan fast food giants, smaller fully vegan chains have emerged, including HipCityVeg, setting its eyes on national expansion.
Founded in 2012, restauranteur Nicole Marquis opened HipCityVeg to reinvent fast food and fast-casual dining, providing mouthwatering comfort classics with exclusive sustainable, plant-based ingredients. The Philadelphia-based chain has quickly expanded across the East Coast and Marquis expects to continue its accelerated growth nationwide.
“We want to make eating plant-based easy, and convenient for everyone, and we plan to be the leader in this category, “ Marquis said. “In five years, we will have hundreds of restaurants all across the country and across the globe. I have never doubted this, and my strong belief in achieving this level of success against all odds is what has always fueled me and my team of strong leaders.”
After opening in 2012, the chain attracted an unbelievably loyal following. Regardless of where the plant-based establishment opens, it immediately amasses a line out of the door. Last year, the brand opened its first New York Location and drew a crowd of thousands to Union Square. Currently, HipCity Veg is located in New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia suburbs. The brand intends to open its 10th location in Wyncote, Pennsylvania this March.
HipCityVeg is expanding quickly by capitalizing on the growing demand for take-out and delivery foods. The brand reported that its online orders have nearly quadrupled since the COVID-19 pandemic began, rising from 15 percent of business to 60 percent. HipCityVeg plans to expand its total kitchens to 15 locations by Spring of 2022, focusing on take-out and delivery-style eateries.
“This novel approach responds to the unique moment we are in, with more consumers wanting to enjoy their favorite foods at home,” Marquis said. “ Yet, we don’t want to lose the in-person experience that makes restaurants destinations and community gathering places, so we are taking a hybrid approach to growth.”
The East Coast fast food chain features nearly all fast food classics including Sweet Potato Fries, classic “chicken” sandwiches, and a variety of burgers including the Smokehouse Burger. The brand intends to give people an elevated fast food experience that prioritizes health and sustainability. Marquis hopes that HipCityVeg can provide a national alternative to fast food and make plant-based foods more accessible than ever.
“Our flavors are craveable and unique, which is why people keep returning. Most of our guests are not vegetarian or vegan. They come because they love the taste and the way they feel after eating it,” Marquis said. “We are investing in our team and our infrastructure, everything from the way we prepare our food, to our ordering system, to our training and leadership program. We’re excited to build something truly remarkable together.”
Is fast food the path to accessible plant-based foods?
Fast food’s widespread popularity is helping bolster plant-based and meatless interest. People want cheap and accessible comfort foods, so now that fast food giants have started incorporating vegan alternatives to their menus, consumers have taken more interest than ever. The animal-rights organization World Animal Protection recently released a report that claimed that 630,000 animals were saved from the food system in the United States, indicating that a huge portion of this can be attributed to the growing fast food industry. Non-vegans have started decreasing their meat consumption by opting for meat alternatives.
2021 marked a year of impressive and unexpected innovations within the plant-based world. Major fast food players introduced new vegan burgers, chicken tenders, and other specialty dishes to appeal to all customers, vegans and non-vegans alike. One report shows that the vegan fast food market is expected to reach $40 billion by 2028, increasing at an unprecedented 11.4 percent growth rate. Vegan meat is found on menus 1,320 percent more since the pandemic began and national chains have helped continue fueling that growth.
HipCityVeg’s West Coast counterpart, Plant Power Fast Food, has also expressed national aspirations. The vegan fast food company recently opened its 10th location in Las Vegas and announced that it aims to begin spreading across the United States within the next year. The company partnered with real estate company Scale x 3 to begin scouting new storefronts. With the accelerated development, these vegan fast food brands will be making plant-based classics available to all Americans sooner than they think.
The 6 Best Fast Food Chains With Plant-Based Options on the Menu
Fast-food restaurants have finally got the memo that their customer base isn’t just coming through for a burger, fried chicken, or a beef taco. Many now have plant-based foods and are coming up with creative, delicious ways to get more greens on the menu. Here are the 6 best fast-food chains with plant-based options on the menu.