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Arby’s to Vegans: You Can’t Sit With Us

There are a lot of things you can say about Arby’s, but what you can’t say is that they’ve ever wavered for even a moment in their love for meat (or, as they say, “the meats”). The chain is very concerned with making sure everyone knows that they are committed to cooking, serving, and celebrating the meats — so much so, that they recently felt the need to quash rumors that they’d be adding plant-based meat alternatives to the menu.

It all started when a vegan news outlet reported that, based on an investor presentation from Impossible Foods (the in-high-demand meatless burger company), it seemed like Arby’s was exploring adding a vegan meat to their offerings. In spite of Arby’s fervent marketing that insists meat is their life, it made sense — Burger King now serves the Impossible Burger at all of their restaurants in the US, and Little Caesar’s is testing Impossible Sausage as a potential topping. Why not Arby’s?

Well, Arby’s president Rob Lynch saw the rumors spreading online and immediately sprang into action. He was literally in a panic. “Please, please, please say it isn’t so!” he begged his colleagues. Including vegan meat alternatives among Arby’s offerings “won’t happen on my watch,” Lynch promised to fans of Arby’s dubious sliced sandwich meats. “The only way would be if I got fired for some reason.”

It may seem like a strange thing to dig their heels in over, but Arby’s dedication to their slogan “We have the meats” is in part credited with the company’s dramatic turn-around after slumping sales in the mid-aughts.

That being said, it might not be the smartest business strategy. More people in the US are vegan than ever before — the rate of veganism in the US increased by 600% between 2014 and 2017, and sales of plant-based food alternatives (like nut milks, faux cheese and vegan meats) grew 17% in 2018, compared to just a 2% increase for food sales overall.

Only time will tell whether Arby’s strategy of doubling down on the meats will pay off. In the meantime, those looking for meatless meal alternatives can head to Burger King, Little Caesars, White Castle, or Del Taco, all of which now offer some form of meat alternatives on their menus for vegan and vegetarian customers.

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