These restaurants are saying no to plant-based 'meat' products

By Food and BeverageFOXBusiness

Red Lobster CEO says plant-based seafood is 'terrible,' has no plans to add it to menu

A look at why Red Lobster will not be adding plant-based seafood to its menu.

With fast-food outlets like Burger King and White Castle jumping on the plant-based food bandwagon, a couple of companies are saying the new food fad will never make an appearance on their menus.

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Don't expect to see such products on menus at Red Lobster or Arby's.

Red Lobster CEO Kim Lopdrup is has been vocal about his dislike for plant-based seafood, calling it "terrible." He did say he's passionate about healthy eating and is glad other companies are taking advantage of the trend.

"While plant-based foods are dramatically healthier than red meat, seafood is an even healthier option," Lopdrup told FOX News. "At Red Lobster, we have a large variety of healthy, high-quality seafood options that taste good and are good for you ... We have not yet seen a plant-based seafood product that we would put on our menu."

We have not yet seen a plant-based seafood product that we would put on our menu.

Red Lobster CEO Kim Lopdrup

A Red Lobster spokesperson referenced a Harvard University study that suggests the health benefits of fish "outweigh" possible dangers, such as accidental ingestion of carcinogens or mercury.

Arby's recently made fun of the plant-based trend, coming out with their own "meat-based vegetables."

The company posted a video in July showing their new creation: carrots made of turkey breast.

The nearly 60-second video, titled “The Marrot” opened with the line: “If they can make meat from veggies (and other stuff) we can make veggies from meat.”

It then shows a turkey breast being sliced and rolled into the shape of carrots in a cheesecloth.

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The chef then cooked the meat sous vide-style — placing it in a vacuum-sealed bag that was cooked in temperature-controlled waters — before rolling the pieces in a special dried carrot juice powder and roasting them.

In a change from Arby’s “We have the meats” slogan, the video closed with the words: “We have the Megetables.”

“Plant-based meats are the latest incarnation of making vegetables look like what Americans really want, which is great, tasty meat,” Jim Taylor, chief marketing officer for Arby’s, said in a statement.

“Universally, people know we’re supposed to eat vegetables every day,” he added. “But 90 percent of American’s don’t eat the recommended amount. So we said if others can make meat out of vegetables, why can’t we make vegetables out of meat?”

In May, an Arby’s spokesperson told FOX Business the restaurant would not be collaborating with Impossible Foods to create a plant-based meat product for its menu.

“Contrary to reports, Arby’s is not one of the restaurant companies interested in working with Impossible Foods. We are America’s home for the meats, and are proud to have earned that title by doing things differently than the rest of the industry," the spokesperson said in an email.

We are America’s home for the meats.

Arby's spokesperson

"We opened our doors in 1964 offering a 69-cent, premium and abundant roast beef sandwiches while the rest of the competition was selling hamburgers for 15 cents. While Arby’s has been keeping tabs on this curious new world of 100-percent plant-based products posing as meats, following this trend like everyone else goes against who we are as a business," the spokesperson added. "The chances Arby’s will bring plant-based protein to our menu — now or in the future — are absolutely impossible.”

The chances Arby’s will bring plant-based protein to our menu — now or in the future — are absolutely impossible.

Arby's spokesperson

Arby’s president Rob Lynch told Fortune he was shocked to hear rumors that Arby’s was considering adding plant-based meat items on its menus.

“’Please, please, please say it isn’t so!’” Lynch recalled telling colleagues, according to Fortune. But Lynch reiterated it "won't happen on [his] watch."

According to research firm MarketsandMarkets, the global market for meat substitutes is expected to grow steadily from an estimated $4.6 billion in 2018 to $6.4 billion by 2023.

Despite the booming market, Lynch said the image of the Arby’s brand is “making big, high quality, meaty, abundant sandwiches.”

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“That’s who we are,” Lynch said.

He added, “The only way would be if I got fired for some reason."

FOX Business' Ann Schmidt, Kathleen Joyce, Jade Scipioni and Jennifer Earl contributed to this report. 

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