Someone alert the brigadier general ― the Colonel has gone rogue.
That’s “Colonel” as in Colonel Sanders, the expansive chicken frying empire that is reportedly developing a vegetarian chicken substitute to test out in the U.K. sometime in 2019.
We don’t know how KFC plans to make its veggie chicken substitute, but presumably the global chain won’t just wing it. Popular meatless alternatives currently include seitan, a high-protein product made of wheat gluten, and a number of soy-based alternatives.
A KFC spokesperson said its meat-free research is part of a broader push at the chain to reduce calories per serving by 20 percent and introduce a number of lower calorie options.
“Development of the recipe is still in its very early stages, and so the options we’re exploring in our kitchen are still top secret,” the company said.
The company said that after perfecting the recipe, it aims to test it with customers “and if all goes well, we hope to launch a new vegetarian option in 2019.”
Fried chicken connoisseurs looking to sample KFC’s vegetarian creation in the U.S. are out of luck. For the time being, the menu will only be offered in the U.K., and only on a provisional basis.
The menu diversification matches the changing tastes of consumers, as younger customers in particular tend to seek out food with healthier ingredients ― and more often eat vegetarian. That’s according to restaurant consultant Aaron Allen, who told USA Today other fast food chains will likely follow KFC’s lead.
“How sharply has vegetarianism increased in the U.S.? Double and triple digits,” he said. “We’re talking about millions of people dramatically changing their diets. Chains will take note of that and change their menu offerings.”