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Is 2020 the New Year of the Vegan?

2019 was declared the year of the vegan, but 2020 was kicked off with popular fast food chains adding vegan alternatives to their menus. McDonalds, Subway and KFC, to name a few, have all decided to cater to the vegan market by adding meat substitutes. Examples of this are Subway’s meatless subs and the soy based Impossible Whopper from Burger King. 

UK non-profit organisation Veganuary had a record of 400,000 sign ups this year. Founded in 2014, the organisation aims to encourage and promote a vegan lifestyle, challenging the public to try vegan for the month of January. The Veganuary hashtag has been used over one million times and although not all participants have recruited themselves to the original site, the essence of what Veganuary means is becoming more popular.  

Extensive advertising from these chains were timed with the annual Veganuary challenge to encourage consumers to take part, but also advertise to the vegan market and attempt to attract new customers. 

Louis Maxwell, who has been vegan for about two years, spoke on behalf of the vegan lifestyle by sharing that these fast food chain substitutes aren’t that great. “It’s convenient for sure but most of them are tasteless, especially the KFC burger, so bland and it’s a fiver. I’d much rather pay 10 and get something with taste.” 

The way in which these vegan meals are prepared in the restaurant is also queried by the public. The Impossible Whopper is reportedly cooked on the same grill as the traditional burger, meaning the soy-based patty is potentially soaked in the grease of the meat.  

Aside from that, some vegans have not been enticed to dine on these fast food substitutes as a statement toward the fast food franchise. Fast food restaurants have a history of being related to animal cruelty farms, where the livestock for the burgers and nuggets are cooped up in overcrowded dark pens for their meat or produce, such as battery hens.  

It’s an understandable moral conflict as we know that the vegan lifestyle doesn’t include animal by-products because of the conditions that the animals are subjected to. But as veganism is becoming more popular and entering the mainstream alongside vegetarians, fast food chains need to make changes to adapt to the growing market.  

Louis also commented that fast food chains branching out their menus to accommodate the vegan diet is taking pressure off of social groups with dietary requirements, making it easier on deciding where to eat. “If the food is good it works great, but if my social group allows it, I always try to eat in a vegan only place such as “It’s A Trap” on Parnell Street or “Flip It,” the burger shop.” 

 

Veganuary may have inspired restaurants to expand their menus in a positive direction for the vegan lifestyle, but it looks as though there are still a few kinks to work out.