White Castle is following up the launch of its meatless Impossible Slider with dairy-free cheese.
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The Ohio-based burger chain announced Tuesday it will add a non-dairy cheddar cheese item to menus beginning March 1 in its New Jersey and New York City restaurants. It’s the latest effort among fast-food chains catering to vegan and plant-based diets with increased interest for protein alternatives to dairy and red meat.
White Castle introduced the Impossible Slider, a plant-based burger that looks and tastes like real beef, in 2018 for a test run and made it a permanent menu item several months later. The addition of the dairy-free cheese will make the cheese slider fully vegan.
The burger chain partnered with vegan cheese brand GoodPlanet Foods. White Castle has also updated its bread bun recipe to meet vegan dietary restrictions.
A growing number of Americans are opting to follow a vegan or plant-based diet for health reasons. Indeed, 13 percent now subscribe to a vegan, vegetarian or paleo diet. And a study by OnePoll and So Delicious Dairy Free looked at the eating habits of 2,000 Americans found that nearly 60 percent eat plant-based meals at least once a day.
Retail sales of plant-based foods have grown more than 11 percent in the past year, bringing the total market value to over $4.5 billion, according to the Plant-Based Foods Association. The total U.S. retail food market, meanwhile, has grown just 2 percent in dollar sales during the same period, suggesting that alternative meat has major staying power beyond a fleeting food trend. And the plant-based cheese market is estimated to grow 15 percent between now and 2024.