The world’s largest restaurant chain is going vegan—or at least testing the waters. Subway plans to roll out three vegan sandwiches at locations in Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia, according to an announcement from Compassion Over Killing, a nonprofit animal advocacy organization based in D.C. The three varieties, called “Sweet Riblet,” “Malibu Greek” and “Italian Black Bean,” are the latest offerings to veggie-loving customers.
The company is no stranger to vegetarian options. Last summer they offered a vegan option in Canada with the “Totally Vegged” vegan patty. Subway also serves a vegetarian patty in the U.S. but it contains dairy and eggs. Its Italian breads are already vegan and the nine-grain wheat bread comes close, but isn’t vegan because it contains honey.
In a January 2012 column, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman said that while Americans eat more meat than any other population in the world, our meat consumption has been declining for years. The Department of Agriculture projected that we would eat less beef and chicken in 2012.
About 1 million Americans are estimated to be vegan, according to a 2008 Vegetarian Times study.
But is Subway interested in more sustainable food options or just part of a movement of big chains to appeal to growing food trends? In May, Domino’s Pizza was the first major national chain to offer a gluten-free pizza crust at almost all of its locations. The company consulted with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness to develop the recipe, although quickly announced that the crust is not safe for people with celiac disease. And last year Jack in the Box unleashed mobile catering trucks to cash in on the popularity of food truck culture.
With more than 36,000 locations worldwide, Subway could certainly pave the way for vegans.