Calling all vegans: Do you really want to be able to eat a McDonald’s Big Mac? Best-selling vegan author Kathy Freston has created a petition on Change.org urging McDonald’s to add a plant-based sandwich option to their menu. And she’s not the only vegan celeb who wants to be able to hit the McDonald’s drive-thru: Folks like Alicia Silverstone, Russell Simmons and Ellen Degeneres have signed the petition, along with 91,000 other people.
The petition, titled “It’s Time For A Healthy, Meatless Option (Please!)”, argues that over one third of Americans already buy meat substitutes for both health and ethical reasons. So why wouldn’t McDonald’s listen to consumers and jump on the plant-based bandwagon? Just add a veggie burger to the menu and voila: There’s a little something for everyone.
As Freston told MindBodyGreen, “There’s really nothing for me—or anyone who’s looking to avoid cholesterol and saturated fat or something a little more conscientious—at McDonald’s. YET. But if they added a veggie burger or something with plant-based chicken strips, I would totally stop in.”
Now, I don’t have any issue with the concept of putting a veggie burger on the menu: Why wouldn’t the king of fast-food chains want to appeal to more consumers? Duh. What I do have a problem with is Freston’s pitch: She seems to be making the leap that any plant-based item (even an over-processed, sodium-loaded veggie burger) is automatically a healthy food option. But we all know this isn’t true. I mean, as a non-meat-eater myself, I love a good piece of veggie sausage. It is seriously addictive stuff. But I also know that my beloved Morningstar sausage links are NOT a healthy choice. So isn’t selling a meatless burger as presumptively “healthy” a bit misleading to consumers?
After all, given McDonald’s track record—remember when they ruined oatmeal? Their “wholesome” breakfast option was loaded with more sugar than a Snickers bar!—it’s pretty safe to assume that even if they did add a meat-free sandwich option to their menu, it probably wouldn’t make dieticians particularly happy.
Then there’s the whole ethics argument. Freston claims that many Americans are opting for meat substitutes to satisfy their ethical concerns. So why on Earth would these people, presumably concerned with the state of the meat industry, support a corporation with a sordid history when it comes to the humane treatment of animals? Isn’t that sort of, um, counter-intuitive?
So while I don’t necessarily disagree with Freston’s want for a vegan option at McDonald’s, I have to ask: Would any true-blue health-conscious vegans actually want to eat it? Share your thoughts below.
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