I wasn’t going to cover the recent McDonalds vegan Happy Meal or Spicy Veggie Wrap release. I’ve witnessed too many online spats between vegans about whether any vegan should set foot in ‘McMurder’. I personally have not had an issue frequenting the chain as a vegan but understand why others feel strongly about it.
The reason? They did a vegan option (the Spicy Veggie Deluxe minus mayo) and I have a non-vegan son who quite likes the odd speedy lunch there. This caused consternation from others who have commented that ethically McDonalds are the pits and I’m putting money in their pockets. They sell meat, regardless of whether they do a vegan option. So does the supermarket, and I still shop there was my retort. There are many other chains with questionable parent companies, histories, etc. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world and, should companies like McDonalds see how large the market is for the cruelty free option, you never know what the future may hold.
My opinion is that for veganism to become mainstream, which is what we all want, chains like McDonalds need to get on board and start plugging away at vegan products. Look at the clamour for a vegan sausage roll last week! Many have argued we need to choose the independents that were selling vegan options 10 years ago when it wasn’t ‘cool’ to be vegan and I agree in principle. Supporting family businesses and locals is something I feel very strongly about. But there are people in areas that aren’t well serviced in the way I am here in Newcastle and veganism to them can seem ‘exclusive’ or unattainable. Ever felt narked that a brand of new vegan cheese isn’t available near to you? It must be difficult to do anything other than whole foods if you’re in an area where if you asked for Naturli and Violife you’d be met with a blank stare. Ultimately this is all about the movement saving as many animal lives as possible. As Greggs has proved, once a high street chain puts a high profile product out it gives positive publicity to the cause.
The reason I decided I was going to talk about the new vegan options at McDonalds is because of how poor I personally think they are. I have a daughter who has been raised as a vegan since birth. She quite likes a visit to McDonalds with her big brother to get a Happy Meal. Of course, she never ate the ‘main’ part of the meal because McDonalds didn’t even have a vegetarian option for kids. The Teen would snaffle her cheeseburger before she’d had a chance to open the box and know she was missing out, in a fashion. I do find the amount of plastic used wasteful but my little one has a box of Happy Meals toys she still plays with, would you believe! I met the news of a vegan option for kids with elation. My daughter is being raised in a world where veganism is as ‘normal’ as vegetarianism. How great is that? She’ll potentially never feel like she’s missing out, never feel the sting of only being offered sorbet and salad as the vegan dishes in restaurants as she gets older.
Unfortunately I feel the new vegan options at McDonalds are disappointing. They are what people think vegans eat and like. The vegetable goujons are mushy and bland. Dinky refused to entertain it, resorting to her fries while she happily played with her Pokemon toy. She eats veggie fingers at home, these are not new flavours or concepts for her. I felt the ‘adult’ version was a little better, although I’d probably prefer the old vegetable burger over the goujons myself too. Texturally it just wasn’t right for me. Others have said they are tired of seeing the word ‘spicy’ attached to vegan options in restaurants and I agree. Not all vegans want spicy foods. Admittedly sauces can be omitted and at McDonalds you can customise your wraps, burgers, etc. I think the best way I can describe it is ‘meh’.
I appreciate not all vegans want meat substitutes but I can’t help but feel that if McDonalds had launched the McVegan here instead of these veggie goujons the response would have been more in line with what Greggs experienced with their vegan sausage roll. Partnering with Quorn on releasing vegan ‘chicken’ nuggets would have garnered more interest and excitement in my family – especially from my non-vegan son – than this. It would have also shown how easy it is to replace cruelty in a fast food chain. There also the chance that people may have purchased it just to give it a try, like the sausage roll. Hopefully this is something in the pipeline but, until then, we’ll be sticking to our old faithfuls on the rare occasions we frequent Maccie D’s.
Thanks for reading,