chicken chain launches plant-based dishes, but are they actually vegan?

Adella Miesner

Popular UK restaurant chain Nando’s, known for its piri piri chicken and bottomless soft drinks, is launching the first ever plant-based ‘chicken’ dishes to feature on its menu – but can the new meals really be considered vegan? From today, diners stopping by for a ‘cheeky’ lunch or dinner will […]

Popular UK restaurant chain Nando’s, known for its piri piri chicken and bottomless soft drinks, is launching the first ever plant-based ‘chicken’ dishes to feature on its menu – but can the new meals really be considered vegan?

From today, diners stopping by for a ‘cheeky’ lunch or dinner will be able to order ‘The Great Imitator’, which can be found under the ‘burgers, pittas and wraps’ section of the menu. The mock chicken filling is made from a pea protein instead of traditional meat and as with all Nando’s dishes of this kind, guests will be able to tailor their order to their preferred level of spiciness – choosing between lemon and herb, mango and lime, medium, hot and extra hot.

While vegan diners may initially welcome the introduction of a plant-based dish to the menu at Nando’s, ‘The Great Imitator’ cannot actually be categorised as vegan. This is because the pea protein is cooked on the same grills that are used to cook chicken in the restaurant, and therefore there is a high risk of cross-contamination with the meat.

If you prefer to think of yourself as a flexitarian however, and you don’t mind that your meal may have come into contact with meat, you can pad out your plant-based wrap with a side of sweet potato wedges and a dip of vegan ‘peri-naise’, a spicier, plant-based alternative to the classic condiment of mayonnaise.

Nando’s is the latest in a long line of fast food restaurants to introduce plant-based or vegan alternatives to their dishes in the last year. In January, McDonald’s launched its first ever vegan meal, which consists of a portion of vegan nuggets served alongside fries and a soft drink. Similarly, KFC launched a vegan burger in January, which it has sold more than 1 million units of.

The Great Imitator is available for dine-in and delivery across all UK Nando’s restaurants from today (13 October).

Prefer your chicken with a crispy coating? Check out our pick of the best fried chicken joints in London.

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