Fad or Future

Could vegetables made out of meat capture carnivores?

American sandwich chain Arby’s has unveiled a teasing test kitchen creation: turkey breast in the shape and colour of a carrot.

2 July 2019
americanchainsfast foodmeatrestaurantsvegetables

Meat masquerading as a vegetable? Surely you’ve read that wrong and we meant it the other way around? Nope, this isn’t’ the latest effort to mimic meat in any way possible, quite the opposite in fact: it’s a cheeky reaction against plant-based meals.

American fast-food chain Arby’s has gone full anti-trend by making meat-based dishes that look like vegetables, breaking the internet in the process.

The brand, which sells 160m pounds of meat a year, claims it is introducing a new concept to the world – one that it is dubbing ‘megetables.’ Arby’s has made it clear it will never sell patties that imitate meat, like the Impossible Burger. Instead, it has been in the development kitchen since April transforming meat in a way that will trick diners into thinking they are eating vegetables.

“People love meat already. What Americans have a harder time doing is enjoying vegetables,” Arby’s chief marketing officer, Jim Taylor, told Fast Company. “So we said, ‘If they can make meat out of vegetables, why can’t we make vegetables out of meat?’ We’re going to introduce to the world a category we call ‘megetables’ – we’ve applied for trademark. Our first vegetable is going to be the marrot.”

The mind-warping marrot is made with a turkey breast that is cut and rolled into the shape of a carrot and then cooked sous vide. To give the orange hue, its rolled in dehydrated carrot juice, oven roasted and finished with a brulee of maple sugar. A sprig of parsley is used for the carrot top.

The mashup contains 30g of protein, as well as vitamins A and C – just like a real carrot.

“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,” Neville Craw, Arby's executive chef, told USA Today.

More meaty innovation

While there is no definitive launch date for the marrot, Arby’s is working to pilot it in some of its 3,300 locations, potentially as a limited-time promotion.

The chain is keeping tight-lipped about what other vegetables it could plant into meat form, but said it tests more than 1,000 menu items per year.

It is also swimming against the plant-based trend, amid moves from other fast-food chains to cater to demands. Burger King is trialling a plant-based patty from Impossible Foods with its Whopper, while KFC has announced a vegan chicken burger called The Imposter, utilising a fillet made from Quorn.

Does Sparkie think this is a ‘mis-steak’ or a concept that will be well done?


Sparkie says:

I did see this story doing the rounds on social media. My initial thought is that it is a fun thing, but it’s difficult to say if it has much potential or not.

I guess that I expect it to be much like the other fads: profitable for a single chain/venue but not much beyond that. And yet… I have a feeling that this is one that others might try out. There will be a small market that sees the humour in it, so it’ll probably be profitable at the initial places to launch similar products.

Arby’s aren’t the first to do this kind of thing and receive a bunch of media attention for it – Heston Blumenthal’s meat fruit [chicken liver and foie gras parfait, coated in a mandarin jelly and topped with a stalk of ruscus to look like a clementine] is still a popular dish on the menu at Dinner, although it’s there for very different reasons.

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