KFC and the big vegan greenwash.

KFC and the big vegan greenwash.
Picture - What Sandwich War? KFC Sells Out of Plant-Based ‘Chicken’ in Atlanta
The fast-food chain tested Beyond Fried Chicken at one location this week. - New York Times

Vegan KFC

We've been rather critical of KFC in the past and in many ways it was their Veganuary ready burger that catalysed our #Regenuary campaign

What caught our eye is that they're in the news at the moment because of a recent collaboration with Beyond Meats that we thought warranted a comment or two.

Factory farming needs to stop.

We stand against factory farming so needless to say we're not huge fans of fast food giants.

KFC serve over 1,000,000,000 (that's 1 billion) chickens a year globally.
On their website they state that "All of our Original Recipe Chicken on the Bone is Red Tractor Assured.
Because we can’t source enough of the size and cut of chicken that we need from the UK, we also source some from other countries in Europe, Brazil and Thailand."
Reading between the lines here the Red Tractor Assurance only exists in the UK which makes us wonder what conditions the poor animals are raised in in Brazil and Thailand, of and lets not forget the carbon footprint of getting frozen chicken from Thailand to the UK, not exactly sustainable.
Above taken from our facebook post 29 August 2019 
In our opinion, Red Tractor Assured does not provide anything close to a natural life for the birds. For those interested you can download the Red Tractor standards for poultry here
One example we've picked out is that CO2 levels can be as high as 3,000PPM in the chicken sheds at head height.  To put this in perspective this level of concentration in humans has, been shown by collating the findings of numerous studies, the academics summarised that acute exposure to high CO2 levels can have ‘adverse health outcomes’, citing studies 'Chronic exposure to levels between 2,000ppm and 3,000ppm can have even worse impacts as this was linked to effects including kidney calcification and bone demineralisation.'

This is just one of many examples we could have chosen as to why we consider Red Tractor to be inadequate for it's purpose of reassuring the public that animals are well treated.

KFC stocking density

From KFCs website it states:

Our average stocking density across our suppliers is currently at 36kg/m2, which is much lower than the legal requirement of 39kg/m2, and also betters the 38kg/m2 laid out in our welfare policy. We want to take this even further, which is why we are encouraging our suppliers to stock at 30kg/m2. While there’s still a way to go to achieve this, we will be working with our suppliers to use this data to find ways to bring stocking density down in a way that does not raise prices beyond a level that our customers will accept.

KFC processes (kills) chickens at 2-2.5kg dead weight per bird meaning in each square meter, that is 3.2 ft x 3.2ft, or about the size of your desk there can be as many as 16 birds! The stocking density that they state is 'much lower than the legal requirement' is, in fact, just 10% lower.

This is staggering, at scale it looks kind of like this.

Ok, so what, we know what fast food is.

Even with such industrialised animal agriculture the biggest cost of a KFC meal is still the chicken, so what's the solution? Replace the chicken with something even cheaper and tell the customers it to save the planet and the charge MORE for the replacement, a 12 nugget box of real chicken retails at $12.99 and the Beyond Chicken at $13.99.

So what's the problem?

The problem we have with this is that here KFC have the potential to make real positive change, to perhaps, over time, switch their entire supply chain to pasture raised birds? To move to an organic soy free feed so that they're no longer buying any Brazilian derived soy? Instead, they've swapped out their biggest possibility for positive change for something that is cheaper, less healthy and highly processed, damaging to the environment and they're charging more for it under the message that it's better for everything.

This is from KFC's website:

Just like consumers and leading NGOs, we want to use slower growing chicken breeds as they have a longer life and better health performance. Unfortunately, this can’t happen overnight, and we can’t do this on our own. The change to slower growing broiler breeds can only be achieved with industry wide change, and so our data is going to provide a useful tool in encouraging this as we talk to our suppliers as the wider industry.

This is meaningless junk! It means nothing and shirks all responsibility by stating 'we can't do it on our own' - Yes you can if you choose to, this statement is almost comically inept and shows an utter disregard for not only the cognition of their consumers but a complete lack of welfare and environmental responsibility. 

So what is Beyond chicken?

Ingredients: Water, Faba Bean Protein, Breading (Wheat Flour, Rice Flour, Salt, Corn Starch, Pea Protein,* Canola Oil, Wheat Gluten, Paprika, Spices, Dextrose, Leavening [Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Monocalcium Phosphate], Sugar, Sunflower Oil, Dried Onion, Dried Garlic, Yeast Extract, Natural Flavours, Soy), Flavouring (Wheat Flour, Sugar, Sea Salt, Dried Yeast), Vital Wheat Gluten, Modified Corn Starch, Natural Flavours, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Pea Starch, Methylcellulose, and 1% Or Less Of Yeast Extract, Refined Coconut Oil, Salt, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Sodium Phosphates, Spices, Titanium Dioxide (For Colour), Sunflower Lecithin. Contains: Wheat, Soy. *Peas are legumes. People with severe allergies to legumes like peanuts should be cautious when introducing pea protein into their diet because of the possibility of a pea allergy.

Phew, that's quite a list, at least there's some artificial vitamins added to make up for the lack of real natural nutrients and sheer amount of anti-nutrients that are in this mixture.

Herein lies our gripe. This highly processed 'whatever' is totally disconnected from nature, is highly processed and it takes production away from independent farmers and is certainly not an improvement on human health or environmental destruction being mostly composed of industrial mono crops.

The consumer isn't winning, KFC and Beyond Meats are winning. To use the title of Jayne Buxton's book, this is a Great Plant Based Con and for now at least, people are lapping it up at $1 more than the 'real' thing.