Reading Time: 3 minutes McDonald's is expanding its plant-based offerings - but many vegans say they would never eat there (Photo: McDonald's)
Reading Time: 3 minutes

More than two-fifths (43 percent) of vegans say they would never eat at McDonald’s, according to a recent poll.

The Big Vegan Survey 2019, carried out by magazine Vegan Food & Living, quizzed more than 8,300 people on their preferences when it comes to the best retailers and eateries for plant-based food – and the worst.

The majority of the respondents who classed themselves as vegan or plant-based (75 percent) said they’d made the switch within the last five years. A mix of reasons was given as motivation – with animal welfare, the environment, and health all being cited.

Wouldn’t eat fast food

Respondents highlighted their favorite restaurants – with Wagamama topping the bill with 54 percent of the vote. It was followed by Zizzi and Pizza Express.

They also voted on their least favorite eateries – with KFC clocking in as the most unpopular, with 57 percent of vegans saying they would never eat at KFC, even if there were more vegan options. This compares to 43 percent who said they would never go to McDonald’s and 36 percent for Nando’s.

In recent times, these chains have launched more plant-based options – with McDonald’s announcing it will launch an animal-free meal in the UK in January, and KFC set to trial a variety of options in coming weeks.

‘Boycotting animal abuse’

For many vegans, even if fast-food chains offer plant-based options, their reliance on animal exploitation – as well as many chains’ checkered histories when it comes to animal abuse – means eateries like McDonald’s should not be supported.

Vegan activist Sarah told Plant Based News she boycotts fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King – as well as a slew of other outlets – for this very reason.

“I have seen that these kinds of places are trying to appeal to people who don’t eat meat,” she said. “McDonald’s is launching a new vegan meal, and Burger King has the Impossible Whopper. But for me, it’s not just about the components in the meal, it’s about the company I am buying from. McDonald’s kills millions of animals every year, so even if I invest in animal-free foods, I am still giving money to a corporation that benefits from killing animals.”

Other chains

In addition, she said, it’s important to consider all businesses when looking at who to support every time you open your wallet. “I also avoid Starbucks (and other coffee chains) as they profit from selling dairy-laden drinks, as well as other establishments that rely heavily on animal foods,” she said.

“Look at places like Pizza Express, or Zizzi, which topped the poll. Yes, they offer vegan menus, but they rely on selling pizzas covered in cheese. There are lots of non-vegan places that make the majority of their income from animal foods.

“I prefer to support only vegan eateries when eating out. However, I do appreciate that I am lucky in having access to these places, and understand that not everyone does.”

Welcoming all moves to reduce animal products

But not every vegan feels the same. For some, the increasing availability of plant-based options is a positive move.

Dawn Carr, Director of Vegan Corporate Projects at PETA, told PBN: “PETA feels that personal purity sometimes gets in the way of reducing animals’ suffering, which is why we welcome any and all moves to replace animal flesh, milk, and eggs with appealing alternatives, as vegan versions of traditionally non-vegan foods help people who might otherwise hesitate to make the switch see they can do so without giving up favourite and familiar meals.

This is why we’re urging McDonald’s to bring its meaty McVegan burger to the UK, instantly introducing a huge new audience to a tasty vegan option. To PETA, it’s all about making eating vegan easier for those still consuming meat, dairy, and eggs – and that includes celebrating the growing availability of plant-based options at some of the UK’s largest chains, not just fully vegan businesses.

“We encourage consumers to vote with their wallets and choose vegan to help spare pigs, cows, sheep, chickens, and others a miserable life and a violent death. It’s certainly terrific progress that people now have the option to choose vegan, often for the first time in their lives, at places like McDonald’s, Papa John’s, and Greggs.”

Maria Chiorando

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.