Grab-and-go snack brand Rustlers has added a vegan offering to its range, named the Meatless Maverick Chick’un sandwich.
Available in Tesco, the microwavable sandwich features a wheat and pea protein chicken patty on a sesame bun, finished with salad and vegan mayo.
The launch comes after parent company Kepak noted increasing demand from flexitarian consumers alongside disappointment at a previous meat-free launch.
The original Meatless Maverick burger was launched in November 2021. However, despite the pea protein beef patty being suitable for vegans, the dish included dairy cheese.
Meatless Maverick Chick’un
The new chicken-style sandwich is Vegan Society-certified and lists only wheat, sesame, and mustard as potential dietary concerns.
“Coated chicken dishes have long been a staple on the menus of [fast food restaurants], with the sector now expanding into offering meat mimicking alternatives to their best sellers, highlighting an opportunity for the retail channel to compete,” Elaine Rothballer, head of marketing consumer brands at the food division of Kepak Group said in a company statement.
Rustlers is not alone in embracing vegan food. A number of major meat and dairy brands have recently launched new animal-free products.
Richmond is one example of a major meat brand joining the ranks, with several vegan products now in its range.
Additionally, supermarkets have reported record-breaking uptake of their own vegan lines. Most notable is Tesco, which saw demand for its Wicked Kitchen brand double in a year.
A vegan fast food boom
Arguably, the Rustlers range is supermarket-bought fast food. And, as pointed out by Rothballer, meat-free dining is quickly becoming a new staple in the industry. Many now offer alternatives for consumers who prefer to grab-and-go rather than take home and cook.
In particular, Yum! Brands’ partnership with Beyond Meat has seen its portfolio of restaurant chains experiment with various meat-free dishes. KFC, Pizza Hut, and most recently, Taco Bell have all added plant-based menu items.
McDonald’s also joined the plant-based fast food revolution, launching its McPlant burger throughout the world.
But perhaps the most vegan-inclusive fast food chain is Burger King. It has, like Rustlers, faced previous calls to do better when it comes to vegan offerings.
Burger King’s first attempt at a plant-based Whopper Burger came under fire for including egg-based mayo and being cooked on the same grills as animal patties. The chain made changes, following backlash from consumers, and now has vegan certification for some of its items within the UK.
However, where Burger King really takes the lead is with the creation of multiple fully plant-based restaurants. They have been found around the world, including Spain, Germany, and Austria, and shine a light on the chain’s pledge to make at least half of its permanent menu plant-based by 2030. Burger King also aims to make meat-free eating more accessible.
Rustlers hopes that its new chicken sandwich will do the same.
“Our Meatless Maverick Chick’un Burger provides an easy swap while behaviourally fitting existing habits and overcoming the most prominent barriers to trial for the plant-based category – price and taste,” Rothballer said.