KFC creating vegetarian version of its fried chicken in U.K.

By Kate Gibson

/ MoneyWatch

Colonel Sanders may be rolling over in his grave. Nearly four decades after the death of the man who founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken fast-food chain, KFC is devising a fake meat version with the colonel's tightly held original recipe of 11 herbs and spices.

The menu move comes as KFC's U.K. restaurants seek to adhere to new British government guidelines that advise overweight adults to eat just 400 calories at breakfast and then 600 more at lunch and again at dinner.

KFC U.K. told the Daily Mirror that it intends to cut the chain's per serving calorie counts by 20 percent by 2025, a year behind what the country's health service is proposing. A menu update later this year will include a reinvented veggie version of Col. Harland Sanders' fried chicken, the company told the British tabloid.

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Other media reports suggested the faux bird food won't come to KFC in the U.K. until 2019.

"It's a tricky challenge, because our fans absolutely love our Original Recipe chicken, and we won't be changing the Colonel's secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices," Victoria Robertson, the head of food innovation for KFC U.K. and Ireland, told the Mirror.

The chicken run coincides with other attempts to bring meatless items to fast-food menus.

McDonald's last year added a soybean-based McVegan burger in Sweden and Finland, and also sells its Vegetable Deluxe burger in the U.K. Another chain, Pizza Hut, sells vegan pies at all of its stores in the U.K. (Pizza Hut, like KFC, is part of the publicly traded parent company Yum Brands.)

Impossible Foods and the growth of the meatless market

In April, White Castle introduced a plant-based burger, the product of an alliance with a startup called Impossible Foods, at 140 locations in New York, New Jersey and Illinois.

That said, KFC's vegetarian offering is unlikely to come to the United States anytime soon, with KFC's U.S. team telling Foodbeast there are "no plans related to the U.K.'s test at this time."

Surprising facts about your favorite fast food chains 18 photos

First published on June 6, 2018 / 12:59 PM

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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