Last week, McDonald’s announced that they were launching a vegan burger at their Finland branches – and the plant-based world went wild.
Finally, Scandinavian vegans could visit those magical yellow arches and get their chops around some good old fashioned junk food.
But should we really be applauding McDonald’s for making such a move?
It’s a tricky one.
Eating out as a vegan requires quite a lot of planning and money. Turning up to any old eatery can often result in you spending the evening eating your way through umpteen side salads and bowls of chips. The non-meat options on offer in mainstream restaurants are often miserable.
And when you do plan ahead and find somewhere plant-based and delicious-sounding, it’s often quite pricey.
House of Seitan is one of the most delicious vegan junk food outlets out there (true fact), offering up the best fried chicken and chips this side of heaven. But a meal deal costs around £9 – which is fine but hardly loose change.
So it’s fair enough that many rejoiced at the thought of a €3 (2.70) vegan pattie.
Amy Muir, AKA Silly Ginger Vegan, is a vegan blogger and influencer with thousands of followers and she’s all in favour of the new Maccie D’s offering. ‘WE should support vegan options
‘We should support vegan options because that’s how veganism spreads making it easier and accessible for all,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
‘Being negative just because it’s McDonald’s doesn’t make sense because it’s almost impossible to show somewhere that isn’t fully vegan or cruelty-free. Support companies who offer vegan options because we need to show that theresd demand. Supply and demand!’
And you know – maybe a few drunk Finns might find themselves accidentally ordering a McVegan burger on a night out and find themselves lured over to the dark side.
‘A lot of people live in food deserts (mainly in the US) where they can only get food from sh*tty places like McDonald’s – if it makes it easier for people in places like that to go vegan then I’m all for it,’ long-time vegan Ash tells Metro.co.uk.
‘And makes it easier for people transitioning to veganism not to slip up on nights out and stuff. If the vegan burger does well it might one day (although probably not soon) convince McDonald’s and other death houses to stop torturing and killing so many animals.’
It’s an inescapable fact that the more mainstream outlets who offer plant-based options, the more veganism will be taken seriously and will be normalised. And that’s what we need to happen – it’s not a marginal hippy movement, it’s a way of life that millions subscribe to and even more would get involved with if they knew that there were plenty of tasty, cheap options out there.
‘Sure, McDonald’s aren’t the most ethical bunch and many vegans wouldn’t touch this burger with a barge pole, but let’s be real – this could convince veggies or vegan-curious to make the change,’ Lisa, who has been a vegan on-and-off for years, tells Metro.co.uk.
‘When I was younger and veggie, I’d still get the Maccas veggie burger, but I way prefer fake meat patties to vegetable patties, so I’d definitely have chosen the McVegan over their regular veggie option. I’m sure I’m not the only one, so I reckon once veggies have tasted how delish the McVegan is (or how I imagine it is…), it might open their eyes to how tasty vegan food can be.’
As Lisa says, fake meat is the real bargaining tool here. Once the veggie/vegan-curious see how delicious non-meat-meat can be, it could help them start exploring other vegan-friendly avenues.
So, hats off to the McVegan burger for being one of the few meat-substitutes-rather-than-bean-or-veggie-burgers out there.
But isn’t there a slight issue with the fact that it’s McDonald’s who is jumping on the vegan bandwagon?
The company responsible for contributing to the destruction of the world’s forests and for producing some of the largest amounts of methane and CO2 on the globe?
The chain which uses beef from 350,000 cattle in the UK alone and is one of Europe’s largest beef buyers?
For me, there’s just something slightly *icky* about them cashing in on what is essentially a moral movement. Sure, there might be a number of lactose-intolerance vegetarians out there throwing a party at finally being able to indulge, but many vegans – people who have chosen to give up meat, fish and dairy for humane reasons probably haven’t missed buying from such a morally dubious company anyway.
Molly, a vegan for six months and previously a veggie for two years, is sort of in my camp: ‘At the end of the day I like that being vegan is becoming more popular but it doesn’t take away from the fact that McDonald’s is a horrendous corporation for animal ethics and I still wouldn’t want to give my money to them’.
I think it’s hypocritical since I am vegan because I care about animals to then help fund a chain that treats them so badly.’
It’d be different if they were reducing the number of beef patties on offer in order to persuade more people to turn plant-based but that would be mad.
So many chains are cashing in by offering vegan dishes but none is quite so infamously environmentally unfriendly as Ronald McDonald’s empire.
Making money out of veganism is only to be expected as more and more people look for plant-based alternatives. And that’s ok to some degree. That’s how capitalism works – you’ve got to pick your battles.
Does McDonald’s have any interest in making the world a better place or in animal welfare or in making people make healthier choices?
And that’s the point; maybe if they called it the McPlant-based, it might be a bit more palatable.
But to call any of their products ‘vegan’ is surely almost too hypocritical for words.