The company scanned plants for molecules that would mimic a protein in meat that contains iron and makes blood red.
The new burger comes as Macca's has been trialling an all-new McVeggie burger in South Australia.
Plant-based fast food has been the latest craze as diners become more conscious of how their food is sourced and its impact on the environment, giving a big boost to Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, two of the biggest players to launch faux meats. Syracuse-based Carrols Restaurant Group, the largest Burger King franchisee in the country, operates more than 1,000 restaurants nationwide.
While meat alternatives have been around for decades, a new generation of companies including Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat have employed technologies to produce proteins with taste and texture that more closely approximate meat.
The same is true at several rival chains, including Burger King, where employees cook their vegan patties on the same broilers as regular burgers and chicken unless a customer asks for it to be prepared separately.
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McDonald's said the PLT will be grilled on the same grill used for meat and eggs.
"To PETA, helping animals is not about personal purity, it's about reducing suffering", PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement.
So what's McDonald's serving up on its signature sesame-seed bun?
Both companies have been striking deals with restaurants and retailers to cash in on the popularity of meatless burgers. McDonald's shares were up 0.54 per cent as of 12:25 p.m. ET.
Restaurant Brands International added Beyond Meat burgers and breakfast sandwiches across Canada some three months ago, before deciding earlier this month to remove the burgers nationally and breakfast sandwiches everywhere but Ontario and B.C. The decision was apparently made based on sales volumes. Carl's Jr and Del Taco were also selling Beyond Meat products.
She said Canada is a great test market because its consumers tend to be accepting of new tastes.