McVeggie patty is fried with same equipment used to cook chicken but chain hopes some vegetarians will be OK with that
McDonald’s has rolled out a vegetable-based burger in New Zealand but the McVeggie comes with a curious caveat: it is not quite vegetarian.
While each ingredient in the burger is suitable for vegetarians, the company has said, the patty – which is crumbed and contains mixed vegetables and cheese – is fried with the same equipment used by McDonald’s to cook chicken, so “may not be suitable for all vegetarians”, a spokesman said.
“With the equipment we have available, we have to cook the patty in the same oil used for other products like McChicken patties,” said David Howse, the general manager for McDonald’s New Zealand. “This product is intended for flexitarians, rather than being vegan or vegetarian, but for some vegetarians our preparation method will be OK.”
New Zealanders are increasingly willing to consider eating less meat, according to recent research. In October the polling firm Colmar Brunton said 34% of New Zealanders were reducing their meat consumption or avoiding it entirely.
While the trend for meat eaters to adopt a more “flexitarian” diet was promising, said the New Zealand Vegetarian Society, the offer of a vegetable burger that wasn’t quite vegetarian represented a “missed opportunity”.
“The sense that we get from reactions on Facebook posts is that most vegetarians aren’t going to want to eat this,” said Philip McKibbin, a spokesman for the society. “Some won’t have a problem that it’s cooked in the same oil as chicken is, but a lot of vegetarians who are following a vegetarian diet for animal welfare reasons are going to have a problem with it.”
He added that he was pleased to see that more plant-based options were available and the vegetable-based burger was “a step in the right direction”.
The McVeggie was also trialled in Australia this year with the same warning.
Other fast food companies have been criticised for failing to take a more cautious approach to promoting their plant-based products. In November a Florida man filed a suit against Burger King because workers had cooked his vegan burger on the same grill used for meat.