Should vegans support the McDonald’s vegan burger?

I remember, more than fifteen years ago, asking vegetarians and vegans what they would do if ever McDonald’s came up with a vegan burger. Imagine furthermore, I said, that they are testing it somewhere and that the success of the test will determine if they will roll it out everywhere.

Sometimes, thought-experiments (I’ve always loved them) become real. This week, McDonald introduced a vegan burger in Tampere, Finland. The success it will have until November may influence what will happen in thousands of other McDonald’s around the globe.

Vegans, as often, are a bit divided in their reactions. Many applaud this initiative, while many others state that they will never ever eat anything at McDonald’s, because one vegan burger cannot erase the many problematic aspects of the company.

I’m seeing a lot of gut-level, unexamined opinions on this topic. So, allow me to present you with some of my thoughts on this issue.

mcvegan

What’s wrong with McDonald’s?
McDonald’s has been and in many aspects remains a problematic company. Actually, in many people’s eyes (at least activists and people on the left in general), McDonald’s is more or less the prototype of a Bad Company. When I type “what’s wrong with” in Google, the first autocomplete suggestion I see is… McDonald’s. The 1986 pamphlet What’s Wrong With McDonald’s – and the “McLibel” lawsuit by the corporation against Helen Steel and Dave Morris – probably has something to do with this. The pamphlet spoke about animal welfare, workers’ rights, deforestation, luring children with toys, etc. And for many people, even if all of these problems were solved, McDonald’s would still simply be too big, too capitalist, too uniform and too many other things to support.

I don’t have the time to do a thorough check of how McDonald’s is doing today in terms of all these different social dimensions, but let’s just very briefly look at one aspect: is McDonald’s any worse in the animal welfare department than similar companies? According to Paul Shapiro, Vice President of policy engagement at the Humane Society of the US, the company’s 2012 announcement that the US branch would require its suppliers to phase out gestation crates and its 2015 similar announcement on battery cages both led to a cascade of other major retailers doing the same or better. In a real way, Shapiro says, the company’s announcements helped put the writing on the wall that these cage confinement practices will have no place in the future. Sure, all these are “mere” welfare reforms, but they are a start, and they mean tangible differences for literally billions of animals.

I think a lot of the hate McDonald’s gets is not always entirely rational, and is in part due to the fact that McD has come to symbolize all that is bad about modern day capitalism. But let’s, for argument’s sake, just accept that the fast food giant is still a very bad company – it definitely buys, cooks and serves a humongous number of animals. What does this mean in terms of vegans and the vegan movement’s relationship to the vegan burger?

The naysayers
I found many people claiming on social media that they will never support McDonald’s. They refuse to spend money on such a company and, thus, (in their view), contribute to all the evil it is doing. An often heard response to this kind of argument is that these very same people probably spend quite some money in other businesses (e.g.) supermarkets, which also sell animal parts and may also cause other kinds of damage. Again, singling out McDonald’s (and other big fast food chains) seems to me not a rational attitude, but may have a lot to do with the symbolic function that McDonald’s has.

Sometimes, it seems to me that it is part of human nature to want or need enemies: many of us just love to hate some people and companies. For this reason, some of us may not like it when the enemy improves. People don’t want to lose their enemy and seem to require an outlet for a certain amount of hate and anger. An indication of this is that there is hardly anything this enemy can do in order to get the support of the naysayers (people may, for instance, not even support McDonald’s if it’s 100% vegan and green and… ). Some of the McVegan’s opponents have been asking whether the mustard, the sauce, the buns are vegan and whether the patty will be fried on the same grill as the beef patties are fried on – seemingly looking for any excuse not to support it. Others say it’s just junk.
Every positive action that is undertaken will be considered insignificant, or greenwashing, or empty, or whatever. The idea that the company is evil to its core becomes sort of non-falsifiable.

Some people in the no camp consider the enthusiasm of the yes camp as some sort of “veganism über alles” attitude. They see the McVegan’s proponents as applauding anything that advances the vegan or animal cause, even if it is at the cost of anything else. Certainly, there are vegans who are very narrowly focused on animals alone and don’t care for intersecting social justice issues. But I don’t think that is necessarily the case for everyone saying yes to the McVegan. These people may just be willing to encourage every significant step, realizing that not everything will be done at once. If McDonald’s takes significant measures in other areas, these could also be applauded, even though the company is still responsible for a lot of animal suffering.

The case for a McVegan
I have written before on the power that big companies have to do good things (see Beyond Meat and Tyson: sleeping with the enemy? and Why vegans shouldn’t boycot Daiya cheese). It’s easy to see some of the advantages of having a vegan burger at McD’s. Such an offer would help tremendously in normalizing and mainstreaming vegan food and would lower the threshold for a lot of people to actually try it out (the burger has to be tasty, of course – but according to what I read, it is). Companies who have a stake in selling plant-based foods also will start to become less antagonistic to the growth of the vegan phenomenon.

But most importantly, big companies have the power, the resources, the contacts and the channels to get these products out everywhere. I just came back from the Extinction and Livestock Conference in London, organized by Compassion in World Farming and WWF. During one of the panels, Josh Balk, Vice President for The Humane Society of the United States’ farm animal division, reminded us of the days when soy milk could only be found in an obscure corner of the local health food store. What happened, asked Josh, that pulled plant-based milks out of that corner and put them on the shelves of every major supermarket in the United States? His answer: Dean Foods happened.The largest dairy company in the US saw an opportunity and got into plant-based milks. There might be other explanations for these products’ growing popularity, but Big Dairy definitely played a big part in it.
Dean Foods inspired other companies to do as they did and invest in dairy alternatives. Just so, McDonald’s, if successful, may further inspire other chains (and maybe the fast food giant was inspired to start in Finland because of the successful Hesburger chain, which carries a vegan burger).

Can vegans make a difference?
If we think a vegan burger at McDonald’s is a good idea, we can actively participate by buying or recommending the burger. Or, we can just silently support it and leave it to other people to buy it. But what if the vegan movement (in Finland or internationally) was actually able to help make or break this experiment? The fact that the burger is called McVegan seems to imply that the McDonald’s folks have at least to some degree the vegan target audience in mind.
Suppose that, as the news articles seem to imply, the success the Finish experiment can influence or determine if and to what extent this burger will be rolled out in other countries. Think of the massive number of animals who would be spared a lifetime of suffering. I feel confident in saying that, assuming all this, I would be fine with spending my own money on this and asking others to do the same. Furthermore, if I were director of a Finish organization, I might actually recommend all vegans to go there (though I would take into account the potential backlash of less pragmatic vegans).

It is important to realize that McDonald’s has tried to launch a vegan or vegetarian burger several times in different countries, but nowhere quite succeeded (except in India). Imagine that the McDonald’s US vegan burger launched in California and New York City in 2003 had succeeded, and had been rolled out nationally and internationally, and had inspired other companies… It’s hard to say if the vegan movement could have played a significant role in that, but it is not unthinkable. (Interestingly, the person who oversaw the Southern California rollout of the McVeggie burger, Don Thompson, eventually became McDonald’s CEO, but has since left the company and now is on Beyond Meat’s board of directors.)

Bad intentions are good enough
As is very often – and often rightly – the case, our judgment of an action is partly inspired by how we see the intentions or motivations of the people behind the action. It is entirely safe to assume that the motivation to introduce the McVegan is financial. A lot of Facebook comments are exactly about this: McDonald’s is only in it for the money; they are money grubbing bastards, etc., etc. Wanting to make a profit is, of course, entirely normal for a company. Yet, many of us don’t like that motivation, while we love ethical motivations. Do a little experiment for yourself: imagine the CEO of McDonald’s Finland is a vegan and introduced the burger because she wants to do something good for animals. Chances are you will notice your opinions about the whole thing shift.
The question, though, is how important are these intentions? The animals certainly don’t care. With Saul Alinsky, a social justice activist, I agree that we should allow people to do the right thing for the wrong reasons. Alinsky writes in Rules for Radicals:

“With very rare exceptions, the right things are done for the wrong reasons. It is futile to demand that people do the right thing for the right reason – this is a fight with a windmill. The organizer should know and accept that the right reason is only introduced as a moral rationalization after the right end has been achieved, although it may have been achieved for the wrong reason – therefore, he should search for and use the wrong reasons to achieve the right goals.”

I was CEO of McDonald’s for one day
Maybe twenty years ago, in my very early activism days, I organized a protest at a brand new McDonald’s in our town (Ghent, Belgium). We had a bunch of people there, with the obligatory signs, slogans and pamphlets, and one or two newspapers covered it. About fifteen years later, when I was director of EVA, the organization I had cofounded, I did what was called a “jobswitch” with the CEO of McDonald’s Belgium (this was an initiative of a sustainability organization of which we were both members). While I gave a presentation and got to know some of the people, practises and procedures of the McDonald’s Belgium team, my own team entertained and informed their CEO and presented him with the best meat alternatives available. The day finished with me and the CEO – who hadn’t seen each other all day – doing a closing meeting. Which happened… exactly at the McDonald’s where I had organized the protest many years ago…
The demonstration was an example of confrontation, while the jobswitch day was a form of collaboration, or at least, something that could lead to that. Today, these two forms of taking action are still valid and necessary, but I myself am more of a believer in collaboration than confrontation.

No bust, no revolution, but gradual change
McDonald’s is not going to just disappear. And, it’s not just suddenly going to turn into a vegan company. The only thing that can happen is gradual improvement. I respect vegans who want to have nothing to do with that improvement, and want to stay as far away from some companies as they can (rational arguments are helpful). I’m not saying that boycotts are never useful or successful. And, I can obviously see value in supporting vegan businesses as much as possible. But, I think that this alone won’t cut it, and I believe, for the animals, the support of big companies, well-intentioned or not, is not just a luxury. Like it or not, it is a necessity.

And just in case anyone at McDonald’s is listening: thanks for this try out AND yes, we want you to do more.

May the Force be with the vegan burger.

You can read more about how I think the vegan movement should relate to corporate stuff in my book How to Create a Vegan World.

45 thoughts on “Should vegans support the McDonald’s vegan burger?

  1. “When I type ‘what’s wrong with’ in Google, the first autocomplete suggestion I see is… McDonald’s.”

    That has much to do with your browsing/searching history. When I type that, McDonald’s in nowhere in the list. Mine are all about tech problems (first is “what’s wrong with youtube”).

    I defer to experts like you, because I am no expert. If you say to support McVegan, then I would be inclined to do so. I just want to help, and I don’t think that I know it all.

    Thanks.

      1. Tobias, to check the autocomplete results of Google independently from your search history, you can open an incognito window (in the File menu I believe, or Cmd+Shift+N if you’re on Mac).
        Or, you can check on DuckDuckGo https://duckduckgo.com/ which is a privacy aware search engine. Results will of course differ from Google, but it’s also good to check on trends that aren’t related to your personal history.

    1. It is fine for patrons of McDonald’s to have that choice since they eat there anyway and that is a good thing. But I would never in a million years enter the junk food King for any reason period. They are a heartless company who has caused millions of animals to suffer terribly and also humans to die from lack of nutrition for the purpose of a cheap meal of God knows what’s in it. Even the French Fries have beef tallow so I’ve heard. Ronald has been poisoning children since they opened so excuse my language but that clown can go eff himself.

    2. Unless McDonald’s can bring in all new equipment into their kitchens to cook all said vegan food.. It cannot be fully vegan.. If they cook it on the same grill it has a 50 percent chance of being contaminated with animal product. As much as I also applaud them for trying I highly doubt they will shell out billions on all new kitchen equipment to all McDonalds.

  2. Great article! And I highly support the McVegan burger!

    See also this video, which includes a discussion about McDonald’s and Alex Hershaft (at point 2:35 of the video):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTU1SM-mLB8&t=59s
    “So we got into his rapid transit vehicle, and we were in downtown DC in seconds. The street was just lined with fast-food restaurants, and he led me into a humongous multi-story McDonald’s. And the ground floor had different kinds of veggie burgers and soy dogs, for the few people still hanging on to the meat habit. And I overheard a teen server asking one of the customers, ‘Do you want sprouts with that?’ The second floor was hot vegan ethnic dishes. The third floor was all salads and vegan desserts and beverages. I liked some of the slogans along the wall. They sounded vaguely familiar, like ‘Tofu: It’s what’s for dinner,’ and ‘Soy Milk: It does a body good,’ and ‘Got rice milk?’ As I dug into my delicious helping of pad Thai noodles, Sarab patiently answered my torrent of questions. Indeed, he said, the country has gone practically vegan.”

  3. McDonald’s has finally recognised veganism. This move of theirs has been triggered by the magic phrase “supply and demand”. There IS a demand for vegans to be better catered for. If McDonald’s has woken up to the call, then we should embrace it. Yes. I know that they are still dealing in the cruelty dished out to countless innocent creatures, but unless we are prepared to meet them part-way, they will no longer have any interest in trying to cater for us. If we accept this, I suspect that they will do even more to try and identify with veganism. Quorn found itself in the shadows, as people turned away from it. The outcome? Quorn has already developed vegan recipes, and is working on even more. Maybe we don’t like some of them, but the Company is constantly working to develop and improve. So – I support the McDonald’s move to try to identify with the vegan movement.

  4. It seems pretty clear that those vegans who say “never” are mostly motivated by selfish reasons. Supporting this is slam-dunk obvious for furthering the causes of veganism and reduction in animal consumption. Those who oppose is are motivated by hatred (selfish), as you say, and/or notions of personal purity (selfish).

    Like most causes, many fanatical devotees are simply finding a way to act out their personal desire to hate The Other tribe (being someone whose broader politics and socialization do not allow, say, becoming a white supremacist) or engage in ceremony (being someone whose broader politics and socialization do not allow, say, following a church).

    Much of what you say is incredibly familiar. I have written almost the same words about tobacco control fanatics. They have a atavistic tribal hatred of the industry, and define themselves based on it, despite it doing their job better than they do. That is, industry has done more to reduce smoking (by promoting nearly-harmless alternatives) in the 21st century than tobacco control policies have. Similarly, McDonalds could do more for veganism than every organization with the word “vegan” in its name combined.

    I hope it expands beyond Finland. I don’t see myself getting there. Though when I was in India I grabbed the first chance I could to eat at McDonalds and really liked it.

    1. > Those who oppose is are motivated by hatred (selfish), as you say, and/or notions of personal purity (selfish).

      I do agree with you and I feel the same about personal purity being a selfish motivation. But let’s not forget that it isn’t easy (especially for vegans) to understand what’s right or wrong. Feeling deeply disgusted by huge multinational corporations is quite natural when you’re aware of what they are doing. McDonald’s and similar corps have become evils in many vegans minds and hearts, it isn’t easy for them to switch their own personal perceptions. Many react very emotionally as opposed to have an intellectual/pragmatic thought process — and that may be why they went vegan in the first place, out of disgust.

      It isn’t easy for the relatives of someone who has been murdered in a violent way to feel sympathy for the murderer, even if he’s someone who suffered great psychological trauma in his life. And I think that’s the same for many “emotional” vegans who deeply relate to the animals being exploited.

      By no way I encourage this attitude, I’m also hoping for a more pragmatic and to some extent an empathic reaction to farmers/animal exploiting corporations. At least, to fight/change them better. But let’s understand the psychology of more emotionally fragile vegans. One thing I’m certain is that they are a lot more altruistic than McDonald’s executives 🙂

  5. I am completely disgusted with this way of thinking. But then again, I’m not vegan to serve me. I am ARA vegan because actually fucking care about animals. I haven’t stepped foot in any fast food place since 2002 after reading Fast Food Nation. I wasn’t even vegan then, but I knew back then that my life was changing. I would never encourage anyone to set foot in there even if the entire restaurant was vegan.

    1. Rhonda:

      I respect your commitment to the animals, as well as your willingness to incorporate that commitment into your consumer choices, but am also confused by your suggestion that “this way of thinking” is selfish or self-serving. Could you explain exactly how? I find your equation truly odd. On the other hand, Carl V. Phillips’s comment, above, seems right on point.

      Second, your statement that “I would never encourage anyone to set foot in there even if the entire restaurant was vegan,” is astonishing to me. I will support anyone or any company that helps to advance the vegan cause–regardless of the underlying motive (e.g., profit, notoriety, etc.). (See Tobais’s section on Bad Intentions.) Even a modest step, such as the one McDonald’s is making, is enough to trigger my support. I just don’t think it’s realistic to expect corporations to embrace animal welfare for morally pure reasons; nor is it realistic to expect them to correct all of their bad practices before offering a modicum of support. Nobody’s suggesting that we become uncritical cheerleaders of the fast-food industry; recognizing the benefits to animals of small changes, however, can be helpful in encouraging even more change.

      If I’ve misunderstood your comments, I’d welcome your fuller explanation. Again, I do admire your commitment.

  6. We’ve had a vegan burger at McDonald’s in Singapore for a year now. It’s called the Veggie Crunch. India has also had vegan burgers for years. So far we have decided to promote it so that more people overcome the convenience barrier.

  7. I, for one, am thrilled at the prospect of the McVegan. I only wish it was available worldwide/permanently. McDonald’s has a long history of pursuing low cost/high margin products, and the McVegan would likely fit that bill better than their traditional animal-based burgers.

    Not to sound too conspiratorial, but they will likely face some push back from meat suppliers if the McVegan were to become extremely popular (and possibly eat into sales of animal products). Fortunately, if the profit margin is high enough, they’re unlikely to care.

  8. McDeath are about as unethical as you can get, they have a complete disregard for all life, all they are concerned with is the fact they are going out of business and so they are jumping on the bandwagon … buy buying from them you are directly funding the deforestation of rainforests and perpetuating exploitation and murder and nothing good can come of lowering our standards to accept and tolerate anything that comes from these unethical corporations. If we want a more ethical market place we need to let these merchants of death go the way they are heading … die a death … let’s support ethical businesses not sustain the dealers of oppression.

    1. Agreed. Ethical consumers should be able to look at products beyond their ingredients. Vegan or not, Mcdonalds serves addictive food catastrophic to human health, promoting our leading causes of human death: heart disease, diabetes, stroke, etc… Also to consider exploitation of human labour, McDonalds is a true evil that needs to be taken down, however gradually that process might be.

    2. Wait…so the fact that they MAY offer a vegan burger is somehow proof that they’re going out of business? You’ve convinced me! I’ll never buy another McDonalds burger. However I will continue to buy Burger King Whoppers because they fuckin RULE!

  9. McDonalds is a distribution company. When the trends change so will McD. Profit is the motive and the product is secondary. Good for Vegans, good for all I say. When people tire of meat and dairy and choose only plant based foods, guess what, McD will have an all plant based menu too…..

  10. Like Rhonda, I read Fast Food Nation and am disgusted and horrified by the way fast-food corporations control, manipulate, and devastate the lives of animals, workers, and consumers. I loathe global fast-food corporations. However, if the aim is to spare suffering and save lives, we would be foolish not to encourage a fast-food vegan burger. Whether we like it or not, McDonald’s is hugely influential. The faster veganism becomes mainstream, the faster animal suffering, environmental degradation and related human health issues can be overcome on a significant scale. Factory farming must be stopped. The fast-food industry was arguably responsible for the rise of factory farming, so it’s apt that it could play a major role in its collapse. I don’t buy from fast-food outlets, but I support McDonald’s trial of a vegan burger and hope they roll it out globally. In your words, Tobias: “for the animals the support of big companies, well-intentioned or not, is not just a luxury. Like it or not, it is a necessity.”

    1. Agreed ^. It’s so crucial to think critically and understand that there is most often a difference between what should be and what is.

      Also, humans are human, and ego/the desire to elevate ourselves above other members of our ‘tribe’ somehow can motivate us to take stands that may feel or appear more righteous but do nothing to help animals or create change in our current reality.

  11. I very much agree. I feel that the more vegan options on the menu of big companies the better, however unethical they are. I would imagine that most vegans buy vegan products in shops that also sell meat etc. The alternative would be to buy ONLY from completely vegan ethical businesses, which would be virtually impossible, and would mean that vegan/plant based food would stay in a little ‘island’ of its own, and have no chance of being encountered or tried by omnivores. Vegan products being produced by non vegan/non ethical companies is a ‘foot in the door’!

  12. >Imagine the vegan movement could make or break this experiment.

    Your most absurd thought experiment yet! Let’s see if we can come up with another one equally absurd:

    >Imagine vegans thinking first about what will affect animals in the real world, as opposed to their sensitive vegan feelings.

    CRAZY!

    Vegan Club ONLY!!

  13. I support veganism for ecological rather than ethical reasons. I am thrilled to see the rise of vegan alternatives in pop culture because it means vegans HAVE made a difference! I celebrate the “bad intentions” because shareholder value is all that we can expect (or require) large corporations to prioritize, and the fact that McDonald’s (and others) have realized value in veganism means a bright future.

    Innovators in fast food have realized this value, and are putting pressure on big companies to make changes, or lose market share and profitability. Yay capitalism!

    The ecological fact is that vegan products use up less of the world, and should theoretically cost less for a mass distributor like McDonald’s to use, than animal products. At scale they should be able to make more money from vegan products. And let’s face it, no one is going to McDonald’s for the high quality animal products, so vegan big macs make total sense.

    I look forward to the decline of the world beef industry as fast food makes this shift.

  14. Ridiculus article. Not about the idea and the method proposed to save the animals, but for trying to convince us about it being the right choice. Also kind of tricky if its signed by someone who was CEO , even for 1 day (lol) . Of course if the butcher starts selling “vegan sausage” i will not buy!

    You said : “a lot of the hate McDonald’s gets … is in part due to the fact that McD has come to symbolize all that is bad about modern day capitalism” , well i guess there was a reason for that in the 1st place. And sure, “McDonald’s is not going to just disappear” it takes years of effort and boycott to eventually make it will fade away.

    Mc Vegan?! hahaha. We dont need them, blow them up

  15. Coming from my journey (animal activist since 1982), the very fact we are even discussing the reality of a Vegan burger beng sold at McDonalds is evidence we have won a very long and difficult battle, though not yet the war. This is a very long way from where we began!!

  16. Right on. You nailed it. If our movement doesn’t embrace the benefit of these huge food distributors to help plant-based products get a bigger share of the market, then consumers will simply continue to do as they always have – eat the animals via these distributors. These giants aren’t going to go away just because vegans don’t buy their products! Let’s instead get “our” products in the line-up and increase our share of the market. Who knows what can happen when we combine this opportunity with more pb products, clean meat options and solid education about the benefits of it all. I’m betting we reach a faster market and societal tipping points.

  17. Hi Tobias,

    I’m a convinced pragmatic activist since I read your book. But I still find it hard to support any McD initiative for many reasons, most of them have been mentioned here already.

    We are talking about the worst example of food businesses, there’s no other example that could even get close to McD in terms of business practices… oh yes, sorry, Coca-Cola Co. But they are partners with McDonalds.

    Anyway, my concern is not how bad McDonalds is, but how good this McVegan burger initiative is.

    Think about this, what’s the first thing a non-vegan think about when mocking a vegan meal, in many cases is tofu, and there’s a reason for that, Tofu is tasteless and texture is not really inviting. So why making a tofu vegan burger if only vegans will order it? In my opinion it’s because McDonalds is looking to increase their sales, not to make meat eaters try the vegan burger.

    From a purely business point of view, why would you create a product that would rival your best selling products?

    Their aim is to attract vegans to their shops and generate greater revenue, not to try and convince people that plant based burgers are better.

    Also, if successful, McVegan burger produced globally will only increase the demand for Soybeans, meaning that it will promote monocrops of GMO Soy.

    I understand why you see this as a chance for veganism to go a bit more mainstream.
    But in my opinion this specific example is not what we’re looking for in order to go mainstream, in fact, it could backfire in the long term.

    One of the reasons Dr. T. Colin Campbell don’t like the term Vegan Food, it’s because it could represent unhealthy food that doesn’t contain animal products, and this is one example of it. (GMO soy, Aspartame…)

    I know that for example in the US, Starbucks offer in their menu a vegan lentil salad that includes brown rice and green vegetables. This is, in my opinion a much more intelligent approach to “veganizing” a menu. It serves in both ways, to vegans and non vegans. So in the end, that single dish would be saving more animals than a GMO soy burger.

    Veganism is commonly known to be a healthier habit or lifestyle by many non vegans around the globe, and with all the health issues population is facing, we should stick to that tag, it’s a great way to have a “point of sale” about veganism., but only if we advocate for vegan healthy and informed choices.

    So in my opinon calling a McVegan vegan, should be bad news really.

    Please help me understand your approach.

  18. It can be good when companies that mostly sell animal-based products introduce plant-based options because that can help make veganism more mainstream. However, it can be very bad if they introduce vegan-but-ecologically-harmful products (such as those that contain palm oil and/or soya of unknown origin; which could come from recently-destroyed Brazilian rainforest) because that could take over the market and displace vegan products that are ecologically acceptable. (I live in Croatia and, by that, I mean soya and sunflower oil from crops that were grown on existing farmland in Croatia or some other European country in which the large-scale destruction of natural ecosystems and violence against indigenous peoples are not taking place). It is also important to use packaging that can be recycled, composted or used as fuel to generate energy (which excludes multi-layered packaging consisting of aluminium, paper and plastic; as is usually used for soymilk).

  19. This is really much ado about nothing because vegans are a fairly irrelevant force in the mainstream food markets. Hell….vegans speaking negatively about it may actually make it more popular with non-vegans. Ultimately the product is going to succeed if its tasty and appeals to a broad segment of the market…….not a tiny niche market.

    Also this really isn’t new….Sweden as the “Mcbean”:

    https://www.mcdonalds.com/se/sv-se/hela-menyn/vegetariskt.html

  20. So many people are using the “veganism” excuse to cover up the reality of eating disorders these days. Very convenient.

  21. I’m a convinced pragmatic activist since I read your book. But I still find it hard to support any McD initiative for many reasons, most of them have been mentioned here already.

    We are talking about the worst example of food businesses, there’s no other example that could even get close to McD in terms of business practices… oh yes, sorry, Coca-Cola Co. But they are partners with McDonalds.

    Anyway, my concern is not how bad McDonalds is, but how good this McVegan burger initiative is.

    Think about this, what’s the first thing a non-vegan think about when mocking a vegan meal, in many cases is tofu, and there’s a reason for that, Tofu is tasteless and texture is not really inviting. So why making a tofu vegan burger if only vegans will order it? In my opinion it’s because McDonalds is looking to increase their sales, not to make meat eaters try the vegan burger.

    From a purely business point of view, why would you create a product that would rival your best selling products?

    Their aim is to attract vegans to their shops and generate greater revenue, not to try and convince people that plant based burgers are better.

    Also, if successful, McVegan burger produced globally will only increase the demand for Soybeans, meaning that it will promote monocrops of GMO Soy.

    I understand why you see this as a chance for veganism to go a bit more mainstream.
    But in my opinion this specific example is not what we’re looking for in order to go mainstream, in fact, it could backfire in the long term.

    One of the reasons Dr. T. Colin Campbell don’t like the term Vegan Food, it’s because it could represent unhealthy food that doesn’t contain animal products, and this is one example of it. (GMO soy, Aspartame…)

    I know that for example in the US, Starbucks offer in their menu a vegan lentil salad that includes brown rice and green vegetables. This is, in my opinion a much more intelligent approach to “veganizing” a menu. It serves in both ways, to vegans and non vegans. So in the end, that single dish would be saving more animals than a GMO soy burger.

    Veganism is commonly known to be a healthier habit or lifestyle by many non vegans around the globe, and with all the health issues population is facing, we should stick to that tag, it’s a great way to have a “point of sale” about veganism., but only if we advocate for vegan healthy and informed choices.

    So in my opinon calling a McVegan vegan, should be bad news really.

    1. even if no meat eater is ever convinced of eating the vegan burger of McDonald’s, that still doesn’t take away from the fact that there’s one less excuse not to go vegan for other people. i mean, seeing that mcd now offers a vegan burger, can make it easier for anyone (inside or outside mcdonalds) to take steps…

    2. Fer G,

      Many people that aren’t vegetarian (and by extension vegan) buy veggie burgers……..where as vegans make up such a small share of the market that creating a product just for them usually doesn’t make sense for a high volume fast-food restaurant like McDonalds. I’m also sure they are well aware that many vegans have a negative imagine of them.

      Also different demographics eat different types of food. How people find tofu depends entirely on their upbringing…..raise kids with tofu and they will think its normal. I found your lentil soup example funny because years ago I encouraged my mom to buy some as an alternative to eating meat….and guess what happened? It expired…..she never bothered eating it because she didn’t find it tasty and it wasn’t familiar for her. Most people aren’t going to change the style of their diet dramatically and changes that do occur will occur overtime. Products like the McVegan are excellent products for certain demographics and provide them with a convenient and relatively familiar option that doesn’t involve meat. You have to meet people where they are…..the more you try to move them they more likely they won’t even bother.

  22. Hi Tobias,

    In the beginning you say that you “don’t have time to do a thorough check of how McDonald’s is doing today in terms of all these different social dimensions”. Are you aware about the fact it is a common thing for McDonald’s to fire workers that join the unions? Do you believe that having vegans promoting McDonald’s would have a positive social impact to the movement?

    For me, this reason alone is more than enough to express my total opposition towards this idea. Do you believe, as mentioned above, that I am “motivated by hatred (selfish), and/or notions of personal purity (selfish)?

    Thanks,

    William

    1. hi william, i obviously don’t want to say that people can’t have well intentioned objections (that don’t arise out of purity or other kinda selfish motivations). I can perfectly imagine that workers rights are a nono to people. I just wonder 1. if it’s effective to boycott and call for boycott based on that and 2. whether people treat other companies similarly or whether they single out mcdonald’s.

  23. You lost me at would do if ever McDonalds. If McDonalds ever sounds better. It’s too late at night to give an opinion as I am now put off because I cannot speak Mumbo jumbo language at this time… I want to form an opinion yet now I’ve only an opinion on this unchecked grammar, so… I don’t know 🤔 Ask me again on you next hopefully better worded post

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