KFC announces a vegetarian chicken option is coming to the UK

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KFC is making its first foray into the vegetarian lifestyle with a faux chicken product. The chicken chain also plans to introduce a variety of meals under 600 calories by 2020.

The U.K. arm of the storied fried chicken chain is putting the idea to the test with a meatless offering that promises all the secret herbs and spices without the company's best-known ingredient.

Kentucky Faux Chicken is the latest in a string of meat alternatives hitting fast food restaurants around the world.

Some 14% of USA consumers, or 43 million people, regularly use plant-based alternatives to traditional foods, such as almond milk, tofu and veggie burgers, according to research firm NPD Group.

As part of the United Kingdom government's plan to curb childhood and adult obesity in the country, PHE announced a challenge for the food industry to reduce the calories in their products by 20 percent by 2024.

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"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 theNew York Times. "That's why we're looking into vegetarian options that would offer the great taste of KFC to new and existing customers who are changing their dining habits".

KFC says it will sell meat-free "chicken" in 2019 as part of a strategy to get its customers eating healthier.

Late a year ago, Mickey D's introduced the soybean-based McVegan burger to restaurants in Sweden and Finland, and in April, the White Castle chain rolled out a surprisingly meaty slider featuring a plant-based patty from Impossible Foods.

American consumers spent $698.6 million (U.S.) on meat substitutes previous year, up 25.6 percent from $556.3 million in 2012, according to statistics published by the research firm Euromonitor International.

It suggested that food chains change the recipe of their products, reduce the portion size, and encourage their customers to opt for lower calorie products.