Another fast food chain joins meat-free movement
It started with beef patties.
Now one of the nation's most prominent fast food chains has chicken in its sights as it joins a the growing meatless meat movement.
Nando's's will this week launch the "Great Pretender", a plant-based patty that can be used as a substitute for chicken in any burger, wrap, pita, salad or paella.
And it's no simple veggie burger.
Rather, the new meat substitute has been designed to mimic the texture, smell and taste of a regular chicken patty when cooked.
Nando's's food head Mario Manabe said the new menu item was being introduced to service the fast rising "flexitarian" consumer - people who are looking to eat less meat, rather than give it up altogether.
"Unlike our veggie patty, the Great Pretender's texture is very similar to a minced chicken burger patty, and it caramelises and smells just like meat when it's cooked," Mr Manabe said.
"We've used key ingredients from our signature Peri-Peri recipe to give the Great Pretender a kick of flavours including lemon, herbs and garlic, which all pair so well with our Nando's's African Birds Eye Chilli.
"On top of this, the colour and coarseness of the protein itself and the juiciness of the patty have all been tweaked and re-tweaked to make the Great Pretender an absolute winner.
"Our aim is to make dining at Nando's's as inclusive as possible, so this addition will certainly help in catering to Australia's ever-changing eating habits."
The patty is made of soy, pea and wheat protein, with canola and coconut oil ensuring it remains "juicy" when cooked.
While the patty is meat-free, it will be cooked on the same grills as regular chicken burgers, meaning strict vegans may still give it a miss.
Nando's's joins a growing list of restaurant chains to add plant-based meat alternatives to their menu.
Hungry Jack's has launched a "Rebel Whopper", Domino's offers plant-based beef, ham and cheese, supreme and pepperoni pizzas, Lord of the Fries offers burgers from US food producer Beyond Meat while Grill'd is converting half its menu to plant-based products.
KFC began trialling "meat-free chicken" in the US last year.
Rising concerns about the environmental impact of meat production and animal welfare, and an interest in healthier eating, are fuelling the rise of plant-based products that mimic the look, feel and texture of meat.
The products use a processing technology known as extrusion, which replicates the core structure of meat using proteins from plants such as beans, peas or lentils.
Sales of plant-based meat alternatives could surge from $150 million to $3 billion over the next decade, Deloitte Access Economics has suggested.
Nando's's will launch its latest menu addition in Brisbane on January 30 and roll it out across all restaurants in Queensland by February 4.
It will be added to other states in coming months.
To launch the new plant-based meat substitute, Nando's's will give away 500 Great Pretender Classic Burgers with a side of Peri-Peri Chips at its Festival Towers store on Albert St Brisbane from 11am on January 30.