Vegans across major social-media platforms have blasted their opinions online since the news of the new McVegan burger hit last week. McDonalds are testing a meat-free burger in Finland and people are wondering if this will extend worldwide.
McDonalds might make the lives of vegans more convenient. However, the fast-food franchise has long been a sore topic amongst vegans because of its unethical reputation. Animal advocates here in Ireland can’t agree on what is best for the animals in this issue.
Irish vegan activist Brendan Dempsey commented on the news of the McVegan burger. Mr Dempsey is also the leader of ‘the Dublin Vegans’ group with over 3,000 members on Facebook.
‘Veganism is a social justice movement encompassing both human and non-human rights, environmental sustainability, and living a cruelty free lifestyle. The company was built on the principles of cheap, fast food concerned only with profit… I couldn’t possibly be comfortable spending money there…You’d have to ask yourself “will purchasing a vegan burger here result in less suffering for animals?” I can’t see how it could in any way do that.’
When asked if he thought seeing a vegan option marketed by McDonalds would influence non-vegans, Mr Dempsey said he would be ‘sceptical that non-vegan customers would have any interest in a vegan burger.’
On the other hand, some think the introduction of the vegan burger would be positive for vegans, the movement and even necessary for the animals. Katy Morgan is also an animal-rights advocate with a keen interest in the topic. She is the founder of Dempsey’s rival group ‘Dublin Vegan Nights Out’ with over a thousand members on Facebook. The pages have been known to spar in the past. Ms Morgan said she thought the vegan burger would be a great thing to happen in Ireland.
‘If the company sees there is no demand for vegan products, they will stop making them and again more animals will suffer… We have to support vegan products. I think it will have huge positive impact on non-vegans if vegan products are available in mainstream places. Everyone has to start somewhere. If we have vegan products in non vegan places, fewer animals will suffer.’
The burger patty is reported to be made of soy protein which imitates the texture of meat, which is already a hot debate amongst the vegan community. The burger can be bought only in Finland. This is where the trial is being held due to the increasing vegan community there.
It is likely we will see the McVegan trend spreading. Christoffer Rönnblad, the Marketing Director of McDonald’s Finland, said to a local paper that the decision to distribute the burger further afield will depend on the success of the McVegan in this trial period.
‘The very first test sales results, customer feedback, and the attention the product is getting in different vegan communities are very promising.’
The McVegan trial period will end on November 21st and only time will tell if the controversial burger will make it past the Finnish borders to a McDonalds near you.