Reading Time: 2 minutes Next Level Burger has outlets across the West Coast and in New York (Photo: Next Level Burger)
Reading Time: 2 minutes

McDonald’s days are numbers according to the co-founder of a US vegan burger chain who wants to open more than 1,000 locations before 224.

Matt de Gruyter is the CEO and Co-founder of Next Level Burger, which is set to open a new outlet in San Francisco at the Potrero Hill Whole Foods today. The chain, which has opened several locations throughout the West Coast and New York since its debut four years’ ago, serves all-organic plant-based food including burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, and salads.

It is part of a new wave of meat-free fast food outlets, including Veggie Grill and Plant Power Fast Food among others which are becoming increasingly popular as more consumers turn away from meat.

Vegan fast food

According to Fast Company, which interviewed the entrepreneur: “[Matt de Gruyter] believes that the days of the McDonald’s of the world are numbered, unless the company changes; in McDonald’s stores in the U.S., the company is already struggling to increase customer visits.”

De Gruter told Fast Company that people are opting to eat at outlets like his because of growing awareness around health and sustainability. 

He added: “People are becoming more informed. The more informed they are, the more positive action they’re taking, and you’re starting to see this shift toward companies like Next Level Burger, I believe, and we want to be as big a part of that as we can.

“Not because it’s some market opportunity, but at this point, I think it’s a moral obligation. That’s how I wake up every day: How are we going to make the world a better place?”

Moved on from beef

His words echo those of UK entrepreneur Jane Yates, Co-founder of meat-free fast food restaurant Not Dogs in Birmingham, who told Plant Based News that ‘consumers have moved on from traditional burgers’.

She added: “There’s nothing I love more than when a meat-eater chooses it over a meat-based burger – it’s amazing!”

“It’s not just the rise of vegetarianism and veganism that’s impacting on the shift but another group known as ‘flexitarians’ who reduce the amount of meat in their diets, whether it be for one meal or a whole day.”

Maria Chiorando

Maria is a news and features writer for Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. She was previously the editor of Plant Based News for over 3 years.