KFC is about to launch a new menu item, but unlike other recent new items like the Double Down or the Famous Bowl, it does not include the chain's signature ingredient: chicken. The chain is working on a vegetarian option, although it will be awhile before Americans can try it.
This week, the chicken-life "vegetarian options" were announced for British KFC locations. The items will still feature KFC's famous herbs and spices flavors, just without the chicken.
"Development of the recipe is still in its very early stages, and so the options we’re exploring in our kitchen are still top secret," a KFC spokesman told the New York Times. "Once we’ve perfected the recipe, we aim to test with customers this year, and if all goes well, we hope to launch a new vegetarian option in 2019."
The spokesman did not say if the options will be available on this side of the pond, as it is part of the chain's response to new U.K. nutritional guidelines.
In March, Public Health England announced steps to cut calories in popular foods by 20 percent in six years to help stop childhood obesity. The government agency also launched a new One You campaign, which suggests adults eat 400 calories at breakfast and 600 calories at lunch and dinner to cut down on excess calories.
"If the 20 percent target is met within 5 years, more than 35,000 premature deaths could be prevented and around £9 billion in NHS healthcare and social care costs could be saved over a 25 year period," the agency said.
KFC said it has its own goal to cut calories in its menu items over the next seven years in Britain. As the Independent reported in May, the chain said it will begin offering healthier substitutes for fries as sides for free.
“We know people are more passionate than ever about eating well, and we face a big challenge in shifting their perceptions of what we offer," Victoria Robertson, KFC head of food innovation, said in May. "We’ve done it before."
However, Robertson said the goal is to make the options as delicious as their current offerings.
"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," she said.
KFC is so popular in the U.K. that it had to temporarily close almost 900 locations after it ran into a chicken shortage. Two weeks later, the chain started running out of gravy as well. The company blamed a new contract with DHL for "operational issues."