The McVegan Burger Is Now for Sale, but Only in Finland

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Veganism must be making serious inroads into society if McDonald's, king of industrial meat, is jumping into soy patties.

For the first time ever, McDonald's is offering a vegan burger, called (can you guess?) the 'McVegan'. It is a soy burger patty served on bread and topped with the usual tomato, lettuce, pickle, onion, mustard, and ketchup, minus the cheese. There is a catch, however. The McVegan is being sold at only one location -- a McDonald's in Tampere, Finland, from October 4 till November 21.

Christoffer Rönnblad, marketing director of McDonald's in Finland, told local news that the company needs to see how the McVegan is received. "We are going to find out if it is in demand in Finland, [if it is] the kind of product that we would like to sell later on." After November, the company will evaluate the McVegan's success and whether it makes sense to continue selling and expanding it to other locations. Presumably, if it does well in Finland, franchises in other countries will take note.

Reviews of the McVegan are mixed. Some people can't cope with the fact that McDonald's, of all places, is catering to the vegan crowd:

Others think that anything promoting the vegan cause, even if it comes from a company that sells more than 75 burgers per second worldwide, is worthwhile. Taste test reviews appear to be positive, and some tweeters say it could "bring them back" to the restaurant.

Regardless, this is big news. That McDonald's, king of the fast food industry, is even considering adding a vegan burger to its menu is a sure sign of the times. It does offer a vegetarian burger in India and a few all-vegetarian locations there, too, but nothing like that in the U.S., where its website offers rather pathetic consolation to plant-based eaters:

"No, we don’t currently sell veggie burgers. Although, we are always looking to evolve our menu. We have many customizable menu items like our Salads that we’re happy to make for you without meat; although, these aren’t certified vegetarian."

Veganism is growing tremendously in popularity, as people make the dietary shift for health, ethical, and environmental reasons, and fast food restaurants can't help but pay attention to this. Food & Wine reports that the number of U.S. vegans has risen from 1 percent in 2014 to 6 percent of the population in 2017; and 22 percent of Americans say they are substituting greater amounts on non-meat protein into meals at least once a week.

It will be interesting to see what happens in Finland once the McVegan's trial period is up -- whether it stays or goes. (I expect it will be the former.)