However the fast food chain, which came under fire online last year for launching a meat-free halloumi burger that was unsuitable for vegetarians as it was cooked in the same oil as chicken and fish, will not be labelling the new burger as vegetarian or vegan as the sustainably-sourced soy patty will be cooked on the same grill as the restaurant’s beef burgers.
Instead, Burger King says it is primarily targeting the Rebel Whopper at flexitarians who are looking to reduce their meat consumption.
“This really is a game changer,” says Burger King’s marketing director Katie Evans.
“We wanted our first plant-based Whopper to replicate the indulgence and flame-grilled taste of the real thing as closely as possible, and we’re thrilled with the result.”
Despite not being designated as either vegetarian or vegan, news of the Rebel Whopper’s launch has been welcomed by the Veganuary charity, which encourages people to go vegan for the month of January as a way to promote and educate about a vegan lifestyle.
“For all of the important issues that Veganuary - and most vegans - are trying to address through their food choices it makes absolutely no difference whether the plant-based patty is cooked separately or on the same grill as the meat,” says Toni Vernelli, international head of communications and marketing at Veganuary.
“What does make a big difference to animals and the planet is when non-vegans choose a plant-based menu option, enjoy it and then order it again.
“And that’s exactly who Burger King’s plant-based Whopper is aimed at, flexitarians who want to reduce their meat consumption for health or environmental reasons, or are considering going vegan.”
Burger King’s decision to bring the Rebel Whopper in the UK, having already released it in more than 2,500 of its restaurants across 25 countries in Europe, comes as competition within the vegan food space continues to grow.
Last week, McDonald’s introduced a Veggie Dippers option onto its UK menus, which has been dubbed the chain’s first ‘fully vegan’ meal.
Meanwhile, fried chicken chain KFC has permanently added its vegan ‘Imposter’ burger to UK menus following a successful trial period last year; and bakery brand Greggs will be hoping to replicate the success of its vegan sausage roll with its recently launched vegan steak bake.