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Veggie Grill plans to nearly double their locations to 50 across the US.

In a recent interview with Forbes, CEO Steve Heeley discussed the fast food chains plan for massive expansion. Although veganism has been rising for a while now, it still remains small.

Heeley said that the number remains stable and it’s because of the way people define their vegan diet. “Vegan, in particular, has different definitions. But what is meaningful for us and why we have so much momentum is about plant-based food. The trend is rising with 40% of the U.S. dining on more plant-based food, particularly Millennials and younger people,” he explained.

Veggie Grill already has 33 locations across the US and plans to open another 8 to 10 locations this year alone.

Heeley revealed that around 80% of their customers are meat-eaters. “These are people that have made a mindful decision to incorporate more vegetables,  fruits, whole grains, and whole foods in their diet. That’s our biggest audience,” he noted.

Most of those come solely for the taste. “If you eat a Beyond Burger at Veggie Grill, it tastes like what people would expect a burger to taste like. Our chicken sandwich, made from a combination of plant proteins, tastes like a chicken sandwich,” Heeley said, adding that Veggie Grill’s food is “approachable and cravable.”

Heeley also added that the plant-based diet is becoming popular. “The consumer has figured out they can eat plant-based food and it doesn’t have to be a bunch of greens on a plate with steamed broccoli. Plant food can replicate chicken, beef, and shrimp, and you don’t have to sacrifice your palette,” he said.

The Veggie Grill CEO plans to move towards the east coast because they see demand for vegan food. Their expansion plans are inspired by the demand of the public which Heeley refers to it as a “consumer-based model.”

 

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