If you were to read a headline about the fast food company McDonalds, you might expect something related to the obesity epidemic or perhaps our worrying dependence on salt in our food. However, in recent weeks any headlines concerning McDonald’s have taken a surprising turn towards the Vegan community. McDonalds announced that it is trialling a new ‘McVegan’ burger in Tampare, Finland. Tampare’s five McDonald’s stores will be selling the McVegan burger- a soybean patty in a standard burger bun with salad, pickles, tomatoes and a vegan McFeast sauce- between the 4th of October and 21st of November. The burger, which is sold for €3 has both a similar appearance and price to its meat counterparts, and has so far garnered a mostly positive reaction amongst both customers who have tried the burger in Finland and across social media. Users have praised McDonalds for making veganism a more accessible choice and creating a bean burger that tastes good. Others are excitedly hoping for the burger to make its way state side; twitter user Nathan Smith directly addressed the company stating that the introduction of a vegan burger would ‘definitely bring me back.’ Similarly, Instagram user tatuchanth captioned a photo of the McVegan burger with the confession that its introduction to the menu in Finland had led her to end a 20-year boycott of the fast food chain.
So, will this hail a new dawn for vegans? Probably not. The vegan lifestyle is certainly a commitment and I doubt the introduction of one new burger will impact the vegan community all that drastically. However, McDonald’s McVegan burger does achieve something in that it makes veganism a more accessible choice. McDonald’s is a firm favourite with many after a night out, and now the vegans among us will also be able to indulge in a drunken MaccyDs.
I wondered whether it would encourage more vegans to eat at McDonalds and so I asked a close (vegan) friend of mine, Lily. Lily said that since turning vegan she has tried ‘a fair few bean burgers’ and she doubts the McVegan will be at the top of her list. Instead she’s more likely to ‘opt for somewhere with a more sustainable business’ and recommends the Byron mushroom burger which ‘beats everything’ else she’s tried. However, that doesn’t mean she isn’t excited about the new burger: ‘my immediate reaction was fuck yeah more vegan food!!’. But if the McVegan were to come to the UK Lily questions the difference it would make. ‘I don’t think the burger would change my life in any way shape or form,’ as a relatively frequent visitor to McDonald’s Lily admits she’ll ‘probably stick to my safe order of a large fries.’
While this is just one vegan opinion amongst thousands I reckon it’ll be a response had by many. The McVegan burger makes veganism a more accessible choice, it apparently tastes good and is a reasonable price. Its introduction should be seen as a reaction to changing times; the vegan movement is growing and companies are responding accordingly. To anyone offended by the idea of a McVegan burger in their local McDonalds, I say shut up and eat your Big Mac. This doesn’t have to be a one or the other situation. Good on Mcdonald’s for catering to a wider customer base, if only in Tampare, Finland- for now.