As a salad-focused chain with dozens of locations across six states, Just Salad serves as a recognizable stop for eating your veggies. But at a time when plant-based foods are all the rage, the New York City-based brand has decided to re-up on their commitment to meatless items: Today, the company announced it's partnering with Beyond Meat to begin offering Beyond Beef Meatballs — and in doing so, Just Salad will replace its current grilled steak option, removing beef entirely from the menu.
"Sustainability has always been part of Just Salad's DNA. We introduced the reusable bowl with our very first location in 2006, and it's since become the World's Largest Restaurant Reusable Program and a recipient of the EPA's WasteWise award," Just Salad Chief Sustainability Officer Janani Lee explained to me via email. "While we're laser-focused on reducing waste, we're also committed to sustainability across all areas of business, including an eco-friendly supply chain. We were eager to remove beef because it requires 28 times more land and 11 times more water than pork or chicken. When Beyond Meat's beef alternative became available, it made the case for dropping beef that much more compelling and realistic."
Speaking of chicken, beef wasn't the only meat option on Just Salad's menu. The chain also currently offers dishes with chicken and ahi tuna. But even though the company already attempts to source these items as sustainably and responsibly as possible, Lee says they too may be on the chopping block (and not in a butcher kind of way). "We can envision a completely meatless menu at Just Salad within the next five years," she told me. "This is being talked about for the first time at Just Salad."
Something feels inherently fitting about a salad chain swapping out plant-based meats for their existing real meats, too. Though someone like Burger King rolling out a plant-based Impossible Whopper is clearly a big deal, this decision only scratches the surface of the plant-based movement's larger goals since the majority of the remaining menu item are still made from animals. "We're excited to demonstrate to our guests that a plant-based life (or even just a plant-based meal) can be healthy, affordable, and delicious," Lee adds. "Considering the amount of guests we serve (over 30,000 people a day) and our expansive growth plans throughout the U.S., we have the potential to make a real difference in people's daily lives and in their overall carbon footprint."
Just Salad says it will feature Beyond Beef Meatballs in its vegetarian Keto Zoodle Bowl, made with zoodles (zucchini noodles), grape tomatoes, roasted balsamic mushrooms, and shaved parmesan — but customers can also choose the meatless meatballs as an add-on to any salad or warm bowl.