Forget plant-based burgers: Arby's goes big on 'the meats' with meat-based vegetable

Though plant-based protein has been hot in the news, fast food restaurant chain Arby's is bucking the trend.

Instead of adding vegetarian equivalents in their menu, the company went further to prove Arby's has "the meats" by announcing Wednesday that it is developing meat-based dishes that look like plants, aiming at carnivores who also desire vegetables.

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"It's kind of a way of creating something for people who like proteins more than liking vegetables to ease into the vegetable community and kind of enjoy vegetables without having to eat them," said Neville Craw, Arby's executive chef.

Its first product to sprout is called the "Marrot," which looks like carrots but is made of marinated turkey breast. The dish contains Vitamin A, like a real carrot, and 30 grams of animal protein, according to the company.

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While the "Megetable" series has been under development since April, they are not available to customers yet, according to Jim Taylor, Arby's chief marketing officer. He said the company doesn't have a definitive timeline but is working to test it in some locations.

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"We're still working through all of the hurdles that our products need to pass before they get into a restaurant for test," he said.

The company said it has a few ideas about what's next but is yet to pursue a prototype like the "Marrot."

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Despite the vegetarian protein trend, Arby's said it won't launch meatless options like other food chains. In fact, Arby's said the new series being developed is the company's response to meat-free proteins, which has caused a growing movement in restaurant chains across the country.

Taylor said, "I think part of what is in our DNA as a brand is to continue to find surprising, delicious ways for people to enjoy a real, high-quality meat."

Meanwhile, Burger King said it plans to release plant-based Impossible Whopper nationwide by the end of this year while QDOBA Mexican Eats has added Impossible Burger to its more than 730 locations nationwide.

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Founded in 1964, Arby's has positioned itself as a meat-focused fast-food chain with a new motto of "We have the meats" in 2014, which helped to turn around its previous financial plight, according to CNBC.

In fulfilling its motto, Arby's sells 160 million pounds of meat a year and it is known for serving a variety of meat, according to the company. Among more than 30 kinds of sandwiches in its current menu, more than half are made by meat other than beef, including pork, chicken and turkey. The company also used to serve products with lamb, duck, fish, elk and deer.

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