The Innovators: A&W is bringing sustainability to fast food

Credit: A&W Food Services of Canada

A&W put the Beyond Burger on the menu—and it stayed there

From Beyond Meat patties to reusable coffee mugs, the North Vancouver–based burger chain is moving with the times

What’s innovative about flipping burgers? Well, what if those burgers aren’t made with meat? In the fall of 2018, A&W Food Services of Canada became the first fast-food chain in North America to add plant protein-based Beyond Meat patties to its menu, and unlike another chain with strong Canadian ties, Tim Hortons, they stayed there.

But this was just one in a series of moves under the leadership of president and CEO Susan Senecal designed to make A&W‘s 950 outlets known as the greenest, healthiest fast-food option in the country. Before that, the chain switched to beef raised without hormones or steroids and chicken without antibiotics, eggs from grain-fed hens and organic Fairtrade coffee–all served in reusable mugs and ceramic plates or biodegradable takeout packaging. The company’s test kitchen in North Vancouver, the A&W Innovation Centre, even runs on renewable biogas.