If you’re vegan and avoid all animal-derived products (including meat, dairy and eggs), but still enjoy a burger, your dining options may now include a fast-food spot you might not usually set foot in: McDonald’s.
Its latest menu item in the works? The McVegan burger — a soy-based, cheese-free patty topped with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, ketchup and mustard. The fast-food chain is testing out a vegan burger from October 4 through November 21 at the McDonald’s in Tampere, Finland, according to Food & Wine. McDonald’s french fries in Finland are already vegan (unlike McDonald’s french fries in America, which contain “natural beef flavor”). If the new item proves popular, the McVegan burger may start appearing on McDonald’s menus worldwide.
It may surprise you to learn that this isn’t McDonald’s first foray into testing out vegan or vegetarian food. Some international locations — including ones in India and the U.K. — offer vegetarian burgers, according to the Vegan Strategist. In 2003, the McVeggie burger debuted in California and New York City, but it was later taken off the menu.
The response to the McVegan burger among vegans themselves appears divided. On the one hand, it’s encouraging that McDonald’s is acknowledging the growth in veganism (a jump from 1 percent in 2014 to 6 percent this year in the U.S.) and is bringing vegan options to the table. The Vegan Strategist notes that a food giant like McDonald’s proliferating vegan options worldwide could be a boon to encouraging less meat consumption.
Others contend that McDonald’s animal-welfare practices in the past are enough to prove it’s a company vegans shouldn’t support. However, it should be noted that the company has taken steps this year to begin phasing out certain practices, such as the use of antibiotics in its meat.
There’s the health element to consider as well: Soy-based meats and proteins have come under controversy in recent years. While some studies and organizations — including the American Heart Association — tout soy for its ability to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and the risk of certain cancers, processing soy at high temperatures can reduce the quality of the protein, according to Healthline.com. Soybeans are also high in phytates, making it difficult for the body to absorb its minerals, and more than 90 percent of soybeans in the U.S. are genetically modified and treated with the herbicide Roundup, reports Healthline.
But for some, McDonald’s move toward incorporating veganism could be a step in the right direction. If more people around the world opt to swap meat for an occasional McVegan patty, that’s a plus. And if more food chains follow suit by offering more vegan or vegetarian alternatives, all the better!
Here is a great guide to picking the healthiest options in fast-food restaurants for those times when you don’t have access to fresh food.
Read more: The 10 Best Homemade Veggie Burger Recipes
What Do YOU Think?
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, where do you fall in this debate? Do you applaud McDonald’s for trying to cater to vegan customers? Or is it not enough to win you over? Tell us in the comments!