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Atlanta eatery owner: Plant-based protein is the 'new wave' after COVID-19

The post-pandemic rebound is lighting a fire under all kinds of prices, including food.

Spiking commodities costs are stirring up fears about food sustainability, and the trickle-down impact of higher prices on everything from cereal to peanut butter and chicken — which Cheerios (GIS), Skippy Peanut Butter (HRL) and Tyson (TSN) have all addressed recently.

Still, interest in alternative foods is surging, with one vegan restaurant owner saying plant-based eating is "here to stay."

"Within the next 10 years we'll probably have the majority of the country eating plant-based, especially because of how it's being introduced now," Pinky Cole, the owner of Slutty Vegan, told Yahoo Finance earlier this week.

Cole, who founded the plant-based burger food truck turned restaurant back in 2018, teamed up with Incogmeato by Morningstar Farms (K) to bring new plant-based Chik’n Tenders to an Atlanta pop-up on May 19th.

Cole's team is cooking up exclusive recipes with suggestive names like "Side Chik" Tender Basket, Chik'n Tender Tac-Heaux," and "Mutha Clucker" Chik'n Tender Sandwiches. While these recipes will only be on the menu for the one-day event, Cole's team may have the tenders on the menu for an extended period.

This limited-time collab sandwich pays homage to elements of Pinky’s most-popular menu items COURTESY: Shake Shack
This limited-time collab sandwich pays homage to elements of Pinky’s most-popular menu items COURTESY: Shake Shack

The success of Slutty Vegan underscores how major food chains are playing the long game when it comes to plant-based foods.

In January, Starbucks (SBUX) announced it will offer an Impossible Sausage breakfast sandwich at its stores nationwide, and Burger King unveiled an Impossible Whopper (QSR), which hit the fast food chain in 2019. And in February, Beyond Meat (BYND) announced a three-year global strategic agreement with McDonald’s (MCD) as the arrival of the much anticipated McPlant has yet to be announced.

Cole calls the booming interest from fast food restaurants a "beautiful thing" that helps her business. In fact, Shake Shack (SHAK) recently tapped Cole for its "Now Serving" campaign, which aims to highlight local chefs across the nation to feature limited-time menu innovations.

"It goes to that this is what people are asking for, you have to fulfill the demand...it serves for better business," she explained. "It shows you that people are getting more conscious" about their diet.

According to Cole, whenever a fast food chain joins hands with a small business, "it shows that we might not be the biggest fish in the fish tank but we're making a very big impact."

Brooke DiPalma is a producer and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at bdipalma@yahoofinance.com. Check out her latest: