Finland tucks into world’s first McDonald’s vegan burger

Fast food giant’s Scandinavian trial could lead to meat free patties hitting global menu

McDonald's restaurant in Tampere, Finland Image © McDonald's Finland

Image © McDonald’s Finland

It’s a name rarely mentioned in glowing terms in the meat free circles, but McDonald’s has taken a step towards changing its ways with the launch of a new McVegan burger. You’ll need to be willing to travel to try one, though, as they’re currently only available in Finland.

The McVegan is being trialled at five outlets in the city of Tampere, in the south of the country, until November 21. A soybean patty developed by McDonald’s Finland, topped with tomato, salad and pickles, it comes with a vegan McFeast sauce and vegan fries. Those who have sampled it described it on social media as “really good” and “the best fast food vegetarian burger that I’ve had”.

Tampere could be just the start, though. According to Christoffer Rönnblad, marketing director of McDonald’s Finland, the McVegan could be offered across the country next year. “The decision will depend on our customers’ opinion,” he said. “The very first test sales results, customer feedback and the attention the product is getting in different vegan communities are very promising.”

While Finland, the most sparsely populated EU country, with 5.5 million inhabitants, has only about 72 outlets, the hope is that the success of the McVegan burger will see it putting in an appearance at some if not all of the chain’s almost 37,000 restaurants worldwide. As important as giving fast food fans something healthy, nutritious and environmentally friendly to snack on is the message it sends: greener eating is so mainstream that even McDonald’s is changing its ways.

Meat free eaters around the world are now waiting with bated breath to see if the success of the trial will translate into a global phenomenon. One Twitter user commented: “I never thought I’d see the day when @McDonalds would trial a vegan burger!” The Good Food Institute tweeted: “This has to be the first time the phrase ‘@McDonalds is testing…’ has ever made me actually happy! WHOA!”

Dominika Piasecka of the Vegan Society said she would like to see it rolled out in more countries, adding: “McDonald’s is probably the last company you’d expect to cater for vegans, but their vegan burger trial shows just how much the movement has grown along with the demand for plant-based food.”

The arrival of the McVegan has been a long time coming. In 2014, the vegan author Kathy Freston launched an online petition calling on McDonald’s to move into the meat free market. The petition has been given a boost by the news from Finland and has now garnered more than 117,000 signatures.

It’s possible the McDonald’s Finland trial was spurred by a desire to get ahead of the competition by tapping into the global trend for meat free eating – as Pret has done recently in Britain, with the opening of its third veggie outlet. McDonald’s Finland has been closing restaurants in recent years, in the face of competition from rivals Burger King and Finnish chain Hesburger. Let’s wish them every success in becoming even more meat free!

 

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