IKEA's famed Swedish meatballs are finally taking the vegan plunge tomorrow with the release of their new completely meat product-free vegetable balls. The GRÖNSAKSBULLAR will debut in the company's U.S. restaurants nationwide (except, for some reason, Carson, CA) for $4.49 for 10 balls, all of which are gluten, soy, dairy and GMO-free. Don't worry, though: they have kale.
The veggie balls are a blend of green peas, carrot, chickpeas, bell peppers, corn, kale, pea starch, seasonings, onion and canola oil. "We wanted to add a really good vegetarian alternative to our menu. More and more people choose vegetarian alternatives for different reasons—some to save the planet, others for health reasons," explains Annika Pettersson, an IKEA Food product developer. "Our goal was to create something as appreciated as the loved meatball, but without animal content."
A spokesperson for IKEA said they didn't know the specific accompaniments for each platter—the traditional meatballs come with gravy, mashed potatoes, lingonberry jam—but that IKEA chefs are "developing new dishes with fresh ingredients to accompany the veggie balls."
The restaurant veggie launch precedes the launch of a second meatball alternative with the KYCKLINGBULLAR, chicken meatballs that are also gluten, dairy and antibiotic-free. The chicken balls—which are debuting April 27th at $4.99 for 10 pieces in U.S. Restaurants—have 23% fewer calories than the traditional balls, as well as a smaller carbon footprint. Both are part of a push by IKEA for more sustainable, nutritious offerings in their restaurants and stores, with the aim to reduce the carbon footprint of their brand. Both sets of balls will be available for retail in the Food Market beginning June 27th.
The company says it sells more than one billion meatballs per year—roughly equivalent to the amount of hours required to assemble one LIATORP.