McDonalds Quietly Pulling Back on Vegetarian Options - VeggieBoards

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#1 Old 04-26-2004, 10:24 PM
 
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Despite the fanfare surrounding McDonalds introduction in the UK of its healthier Salads Plus range (notable for including a Chicken Salad containing more fat than a Big Mac), they have been notably more reticent on their scaling back of vegetarian possibilities. Both the replacement of their £1.88 vegetarian burger with a £2.21 premium burger and their removal of the only vegetarian option in their Meal Deal scheme have placed vegetarianism further beyond the reach of both low-income customers.



McDonald's Meal Deals are bundles offering a choice of various burgers, a drink and fries. The basic price of these meals deals is £3.19 for a burger with medium fries and drink, with an upgrade to large fries and drink for an additional 20p. Two of the eight burgers offered incur additional charges of 70p and 40p respectively, reflecting their higher prices as individual options. This additional cost is clearly indicated on the overhead price panels that have replaced actual price-lists in their restaurants.



There, however, the clarity ends. The Vegetarian burgers place on the Meal Deal panel has been covered by a sticker explaining that this item has been replaced by the Quorn Premiere. What the sticker doesnt explain is that this new option, clearly mentioned under a headline inviting you to make your Meal Deal choice, isnt actually available as part of the meal deal. According to managers in an Edinburgh branch, they have been instructed to accept requests for the vegetarian option, to enquire as to both your size preference and type of drink but to enter the items separately. More vigilant customers might notice that they are being charged £1.18 (40%) more than the Meal Deal panel would lead them to expect but, lets face it, most people wont.



Where the customer does query the price, managers have been told to point out that the Quorn Premiere is more expensive when bought separately (55p more) and to refuse to accept that the Meal Panels inclusion of it suggests that it is available as a Meal Deal, a novel interpretation of Trading Standards rules. Clearly, someone is drinking too much Coke here.





For years, despite huge and obvious demand, McDonalds resisted all pressure to introduce vegetarian options. Famously, they even managed the fry their fries in beef fat from 1991 until someone blew the whistle in 2001 - if you were paranoid, you might begin to think they had something against vegetarians.



I call on anyone living in the UK to complain at their local McDonalds. Obviously, most vegetarians wouldnt usually dream of entering one, no matter what the vegetarian choices but its important to realize that such options provide an important first-step for those considering vegetarianism for the first time. We need to fight both McDonalds deliberate erosion of vegetarian options and the blatantly deceptive attempt to over-charge vegetarians.
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#2 Old 04-26-2004, 11:15 PM
 
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They already know how I feel.
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#3 Old 04-26-2004, 11:27 PM
 
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They already know how I feel.



Excellent!!



But why don't we take the battle inside, too, messing with their minds may not be as noble as a principled boycott but it's a Hell of a lot more fun.



I'm guessing that you're not located in the UK, so, obviously, you won't be able to hassle them over this particular problem (I'm presuming, of course, that they wouldn't do something this blatant on an international scale), but there are bound to be other, similar ways in which their hostility to vegetarians will slip through they newly-constructed "healthy" facade.



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#4 Old 04-26-2004, 11:43 PM
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They already know how I feel.



Yeah, me too!
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#5 Old 04-26-2004, 11:47 PM
 
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Yeah, me too!





Wow, you folks are pretty ruthless with your fingers



Myself, I can't look at a nice, tall sign like that and not think about much fun it can be to rev up a chainsaw in the wee hours of the morning.
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#6 Old 04-26-2004, 11:53 PM
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We don't really have any vegetarian options for them to pull here in the U.S.



Although if they're doing this with your choices it may mean we won't be getting anything anytime soon.



You may want to post the info for contacting the corporate office. I would imagine a bunch of complaints sent there would get better results than a call to the local restaurant.

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#7 Old 04-27-2004, 12:24 AM
 
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You may want to post the info for contacting the corporate office. I would imagine a bunch of complaints sent there would get better results than a call to the local restaurant.



I did think about that but decided that a stream of complaints all flowing to one place would simply be easier for them to ignore. I'm a big believer in grass roots action and I'd like to see more vegetarians get off there high-horse and accept ownership of McDonalds and other low-income "restaurants" as something that affects their local communities and, therefore, their lives.



Those of us who are priveleged to understand the way in which corporations manipulate public opinion have a duty to confront it when and wherever possible. If that means walking into your local McDonalds and asking WHY they don't have a vegetarian option, you should do it. At the very least, the manager who takes your complaint will pass it on to his superiors. They might not do anything further with it but you'll be planting seeds that may flower at a later stage.
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#8 Old 04-27-2004, 12:40 AM
 
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Obviously, most vegetarians wouldnt usually dream of entering one, no matter what the vegetarian choices.



That's pretty much why I'm surprised McDonalds offers any vegetarian options at all. It's not worth it financially.
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#9 Old 04-27-2004, 01:25 AM
 
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That's pretty much why I'm surprised McDonalds offers any vegetarian options at all. It's not worth it financially.



Actually, I'd say quite the opposite and suggest that McDonalds' reluctance to truly embrace the changing dietary requirements of the public is a classic case of an organization being too committed to an long-held ideology to see that their future depends upon being more flexible.



The big story about McDonalds over the last decade or so has been the rage of franchise-owners who feel they have been sold a pup by the main company. With sales spiraling, the franchise-owners have been dismayed by the company's inability to follow rapidly changing tastes. Whether it was the surge in gourment coffee or people beginning to realize that eating a little better made them feel a lot better, McDonalds managed to miss every trend and fashion, sticking doggedly to a formula that only manages to remain chugging along due to the total abuse of restaurant staff, factory workers, small suppliers and franchise-owners who, back when Ronald McDonald was riding high, paid top-dollar to buy into the McDonalds dream.



The good old boys in McDonalds HQ regards vegetarianism with about the same horror as communism and these are deeply ingrained prejudices - they genuinely don't understand that a huge and growing number of people can simply no longer eat the stuff they sell. Unfortunately for McDonalds, their entire mass-production, mass-distribution model depends upon selling lots of products to lots of people - if, say, just 10% of a restaurant's existing customers drift away, well, that 10% might very well be the cream, their actual profit after the other 90% of their intake covers their day-to-day costs. In those circumstances, the franchisee undoubtedly asks himself what he can possibly do to stop that 10% from drifting away. You can bet he knows the answer isn't yet another movie tie-in. If little Clarissa or Boris want to buy salads and veggie burgers, McDonalds doesn't have a choice, they have to accommodate them, if only to stop their dollars giving oxygen to the local competition. It's amazing, a true anomoly of capitalism, that they haven't yet realized this.



If McDonalds were Microsoft, not only would they have introduced a comprehensive Vegetarian range twenty years ago, they'd also have copyrighted the idea in order to stop people making non-meat meals at home.
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#10 Old 04-27-2004, 01:37 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Michael View Post

We don't really have any vegetarian options for them to pull here in the U.S.



Although if they're doing this with your choices it may mean we won't be getting anything anytime soon.



You may want to post the info for contacting the corporate office. I would imagine a bunch of complaints sent there would get better results than a call to the local restaurant.



Their policy clearly states that they only value opinions from within the corporation and don't value those of their customers.
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#11 Old 04-27-2004, 01:44 AM
 
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McDonalds lost a multi million dollar lawsuit because of (partly) vegetarians. It makes sense (to me) that they, and other fast food restaurants, have started discounting veg*ns. Even Burger King, which has a completely vegan burger, claims it isn't suitable for vegetarians, because otherwise it'd only be a matter of time before someone says it isn't really vegan enough and decides a lawsuit is in order.
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#12 Old 04-27-2004, 01:55 AM
 
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Originally Posted by donnacha View Post


If McDonalds were Microsoft, not only would they have introduced a comprehensive Vegetarian range twenty years ago, they'd also have copyrighted the idea in order to stop people making non-meats meals at home.



lol!
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#13 Old 04-27-2004, 02:57 AM
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Originally Posted by froggythefrog View Post

Their policy clearly states that they only value opinions from within the corporation and don't value those of their customers.



That's weird because on their contact form it clearly states "At McDonald's, our customers' comments are very important to us."

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#14 Old 04-27-2004, 05:00 AM
 
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http://www.mcdonalds.com/contact/contact_us.html



Quote:
Call us. Within the U.S., you can call us on our toll-free telephone number at 1-800-244-6227.



Write us. Our U.S. corporate mailing address is:

McDonalds Corporation

McDonalds Plaza

Oak Brook, IL 60523



However, unsolicited ideas are strictly verboten:



Quote:
Thank you for your interest to share an idea for a product or service that you believe would be beneficial to McDonald's. Please know, however, that it is McDonald's company's policy not to consider unsolicited ideas from anyone other than our corporate employees, franchise owners and dedicated suppliers.



It's not that great ideas cannot come from our valued customers. Each year, however, McDonald's receives thousands of unsolicited ideas and proposals for products and services. Due to the mass volume of these unsolicited ideas and the business challenge of determining what is truly a "new" idea versus a concept that is already in development, being tested, or previously considered, we must adhere to a strict policy not to accept or review any unsolicited ideas that come from outside the McDonald's system of our corporate employees, franchise owners and suppliers.



As a result, we must decline your invitation to review your idea, and hope you can understand and appreciate our business reasons for making this company decision. We do, however, greatly appreciate your interest in McDonald's.



Ahaha. Sit down, shut up, and order by pointing at a number.
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#15 Old 04-27-2004, 05:27 AM
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We're not talking about suggesting a particular product or service. Virtually any company will tell you the exact same thing. They can't accept unsolicited ideas for legal reasons. That's not McDonald's fault.



What you quoted is something totally unrelated to what's being discussed. There's a difference between not accepting unsolicited ideas for new products or services and not wanting to hear comments in general.

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#16 Old 04-27-2004, 08:47 AM
 
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We don't go to McDonald's anymore. And I don't think them having a veggie burger would change that. However, in a pinch, it would be nice to have that option. But "in a pinch" customers won't make them money.
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#17 Old 04-27-2004, 10:43 AM
 
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Actually, I'd say quite the opposite and suggest that McDonalds' reluctance to truly embrace the changing dietary requirements of the public is a classic case of an organization being too committed to an long-held ideology to see that their future depends upon being more flexible.



Are you saying that you feel that McDonald's financial future is in jeopardy?



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#18 Old 04-27-2004, 10:50 AM
 
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I did think about that but decided that a stream of complaints all flowing to one place would simply be easier for them to ignore. I'm a big believer in grass roots action and I'd like to see more vegetarians get off there high-horse and accept ownership of McDonalds and other low-income "restaurants" as something that affects their local communities and, therefore, their lives.



Those of us who are priveleged to understand the way in which corporations manipulate public opinion have a duty to confront it when and wherever possible. If that means walking into your local McDonalds and asking WHY they don't have a vegetarian option, you should do it. At the very least, the manager who takes your complaint will pass it on to his superiors. They might not do anything further with it but you'll be planting seeds that may flower at a later stage.

This is a great idea, if the people who are going into these restaurants are waving money and would actually eat in McDonald's. So many people on these boards say they wouldn't even buy a coffee from a McD's. Why should we be surprised if vegetarian options fail? We can't have it both ways.
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#19 Old 04-27-2004, 11:05 AM
 
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This is a great idea, if the people who are going into these restaurants are waving money and would actually eat in McDonald's. So many people on these boards say they wouldn't even buy a coffee from a McD's. Why should we be surprised if vegetarian options fail? We can't have it both ways.



Exactly. The more loudly we proclaim that our ultimate goals are the abolition of a particular business and that we would never support financially a business that is rooted in the death of animals, the more it makes sense for that business to ignore us--they aren't ignoring their customers, they just have to assume that we aren't their customers. It would make as much sense for them to seriously court us as it would for tampon manufacturers to advertise to men or Fu Pa Wang Pork Restaurant to cater to Muslims.



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#20 Old 04-27-2004, 11:10 AM
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Actually, I'd say quite the opposite and suggest that McDonalds' reluctance to truly embrace the changing dietary requirements of the public is a classic case of an organization being too committed to an long-held ideology to see that their future depends upon being more flexible.



The big story about McDonalds over the last decade or so has been the rage of franchise-owners who feel they have been sold a pup by the main company. With sales spiraling, the franchise-owners have been dismayed by the company's inability to follow rapidly changing tastes. Whether it was the surge in gourment coffee or people beginning to realize that eating a little better made them feel a lot better, McDonalds managed to miss every trend and fashion, sticking doggedly to a formula that only manages to remain chugging along due to the total abuse of restaurant staff, factory workers, small suppliers and franchise-owners who, back when Ronald McDonald was riding high, paid top-dollar to buy into the McDonalds dream.



Actually, you will find that many franchise owners were just as upset with McD's making too many menu changes, and expanding the menu past the basics that they felt were the money-makers. Many also felt changing was not a bad thing, but that changes should be focused and not swing with slight changes in demand. For example, staying away from gourmet coffee is good for many locations, as the costs involved would be too high for the small increase in sales possibly generated.

Did McD's miss some trends? Possibly. Is missing short-term trends a bad thing in the long run? I would say no, as would many restaurant executives.

McD's has reacted to the healthier eating-trend, as this one has shown to have staying power. However, McD's core market has been, and will remain, kids. Adding some items to make it a little more praent friendly has already been paying dividends.



Quote:

The good old boys in McDonalds HQ regards vegetarianism with about the same horror as communism and these are deeply ingrained prejudices - they genuinely don't understand that a huge and growing number of people can simply no longer eat the stuff they sell. Unfortunately for McDonalds, their entire mass-production, mass-distribution model depends upon selling lots of products to lots of people - if, say, just 10% of a restaurant's existing customers drift away, well, that 10% might very well be the cream, their actual profit after the other 90% of their intake covers their day-to-day costs. In those circumstances, the franchisee undoubtedly asks himself what he can possibly do to stop that 10% from drifting away. You can bet he knows the answer isn't yet another movie tie-in. If little Clarissa or Boris want to buy salads and veggie burgers, McDonalds doesn't have a choice, they have to accommodate them, if only to stop their dollars giving oxygen to the local competition. It's amazing, a true anomoly of capitalism, that they haven't yet realized this.



The "good old boys" at McD's are quite aware their food does not reach out to all markets, and except for some minor changes, are willing to live with that. News flash - veg*ns are still a subgroup of the health food segment, and neither group is particularly inclined to eat fast food. Neither is a target market. The strategy of adding healthier alternatives to serve mom'n'pop when they grab a Happy Meal for junior does create an inroad to this market. If those sales are strong, expect McD's to incorporate more items of this nature, although I would still expect to see few vegan items.



Overall, as a stockholder, I believe McD's started on the road to long-term growth about 18 months ago, and from what I have seen, they are still on the same path. I would add that veg*ns need to quit kidding themselves about how influential of a market we are in the fast food business.
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#21 Old 04-27-2004, 11:48 AM
 
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You should have seen the look of complete confusion on the face of the young teenage girl at the counter of the McD's in Wal-Mart when my wife walked in there to ask them if they had the new veggie burger. We knew that they didn't, but she wanted to see what they would say. They had absolutely no idea what we were talking about. They had never heard of it or the BK veggie burger. Once she finally made them realize that it was a veggie burger she wanted, the girl brightened and said, "Oh! I can do that! I can make you one!" When my wife said that she thought they said they had no veggie burger, the girl told her that she could make her one by putting lettuce, tomato, and onion on a bun. That was her idea of a veggie burger. Of course we declined her "generous" offer with a polite, but disdainful, "no thank you," and a description of exactly what a veggie burger really was, and then left them standing there looking confused. About what we expected here in rural "Tyson Country" here in Arkansas! My wife likes to pick on people that way. She's mean! But, we hope that it at least planted a seed...
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#22 Old 04-27-2004, 01:29 PM
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You should have seen the look of complete confusion on the face of the young teenage girl at the counter of the McD's in Wal-Mart when my wife walked in there to ask them if they had the new veggie burger. We knew that they didn't, but she wanted to see what they would say. They had absolutely no idea what we were talking about. They had never heard of it or the BK veggie burger. Once she finally made them realize that it was a veggie burger she wanted, the girl brightened and said, "Oh! I can do that! I can make you one!" When my wife said that she thought they said they had no veggie burger, the girl told her that she could make her one by putting lettuce, tomato, and onion on a bun. That was her idea of a veggie burger. Of course we declined her "generous" offer with a polite, but disdainful, "no thank you," and a description of exactly what a veggie burger really was, and then left them standing there looking confused. About what we expected here in rural "Tyson Country" here in Arkansas! My wife likes to pick on people that way. She's mean! But, we hope that it at least planted a seed...



Planted a seed of what? The realization that someone can wander in and sniff disdainfully at a fast food worker because they are not aware of the different veg*n options? You are aware that some folks do eat the tomato-lettuce-bun sandwich when there are no other options, and don't particularly care for others harassing workers that at least try and be helpful by offering it.

Please, keep us posted. Let us know how that works out for you.
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#23 Old 04-27-2004, 03:23 PM
 
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Mcdonalds in the Uk has been able to make much out of having vegetarian options. Put it this way: if they didn't bother, they'd be f**ked. Or at least that's the way it used to be in the UK.



However, there's been somewhat of a vegetarian decline in the UK. Personally, I think this is a balls-up, and I used to visit mcdonalds around four or five times a year, becaus eI enjoyed the old veggie burger. My visits will become much less frequent, and I'd be surprised if it became more than zero. Although i'll be happy to use their toilet facilities as a non-paying customer.



The old veggie burger was ditched becaus eit has twice the fat of a hamburger. This fat is the reason why it tasted good. The new quorn premiere, is not only sh!t, but low in fat (The two go hand in hand) I'm thinking about complaining to mcdonalds, asking them to bring the old vegetable deluxe back. It's their choice whether they listen, but if plenty of people tell them "Out with the new, in wih the old" they may consider listening.



A for the fries, in the Uk, I'm aware that they were vegetarian. they were, and still are non-vegetarian in the USA. In the Uk, they switched from bee tallow around 1990, and used vegetable oil. This was declared on their ingredients list. When i became a vegetarian in 1997, I picke dup a leaflet about the food in mcdonalds, and it declared the only ingredients in fries to be potatoes, vegetable oil and salt. It also declared that they were vegetarian. After the fries fiasco, mcdonalds put posters up in its outlets stating that its fries were vegetarian, to counter the bad publicity of the fact that Mcdonalds USA had been c***s.



mcdonalds can cross anotehr customer off their list. Replacing a fairly-decent veggie burger with some sh!tty premium one ain't a way to win me as a customer. I'll personally go to places which are better for vegetarians.
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#24 Old 04-27-2004, 05:00 PM
 
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We don't really have any vegetarian options for them to pull here in the U.S.



I believe there's 600 restaurants in California that sell the McVeggie. I don't like it all that much (it's okay), but I would be upset if they yanked it altogether.
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#25 Old 04-27-2004, 05:04 PM
 
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BTW, FWIW, I was under the impression that Quorn isn't vegan, so that's an important consideration in any case, from my perspective on the UK side of this convo.
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#26 Old 04-27-2004, 05:14 PM
 
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I would add that veg*ns need to quit kidding themselves about how influential of a market we are in the fast food business.





Probably true. But I would like to point out the "evolution" of the BK veggie burger. Not that long ago it didn't even exist. Then, when I first heard about it, it was available but not on the regular menu. If specifically requested, the store would dig it out and make one.



Now the veggie burger is a part of the regular menu. I see it on every BK I enter, even the backwoods ones in southern WV. And, I might add, none of the clerks ever bat an eye when I order it, which is surprisingly pleasant.



So... though we veg*ns may not be super influential in the fast food business, SOMEONE out there is making enough waves to change things (albeit very slow and gradual changes). Is it animal rights groups like PETA? Maybe. But even so, veg*ns do make some difference. The prominence of the BK veggie certainly illustrates a the changing perspective of the fast food industry.
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#27 Old 04-27-2004, 05:25 PM
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Around here Subway, Denny's, Blimpie's, Schlotzsky's, and Ruby Tuesday's have veggie burgers. I think there's one other chain around here that has the spicy black bean burger but I can't remember where.

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#28 Old 04-27-2004, 06:31 PM
 
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Veg*ns are influential in the food market. There's a vegetarian in every group. When a group of peopel is going out eating, and the group contains a vegetarian, then that vegetarian will have some say in where they go, and often it may mean that the group eats at a more veg-friendly place.



However, fast food is seldom eaten in groups, and is more of a thing you do on your own. Therefore, the vegetarian can be seen as an individual rather than as an influence upo na group of people in cases such as this.



However, it still sucks that mcd's got rid of their old veggie burger.



EDIT: Quorn is not vegan. But it is vegetarian. So mcdonalds are confident they've got that covered. Vegans are too small a minority to care about anyway, and they probably wouldn't visit mcdonalds. (Since vegans are more likely to be boycotting them) Shame, but that's the way the corporate c***s think.
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#29 Old 04-27-2004, 08:52 PM
 
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Around here Subway, Denny's, Blimpie's, Schlotzsky's, and Ruby Tuesday's have veggie burgers. I think there's one other chain around here that has the spicy black bean burger but I can't remember where.



Chili's?



Just about every mainstream chain (applebees, chevy's, chilis, tgi fridays) will have a veggie patty you can sub on any of their burgers.



And really - I won't be broken-hearted to see mc d's pull their veg options. As others have mentioned, it's not really their core competency to provide veg options and, as such, is likely reducing their cost efficiency. You can't please everyone, so I say work on improving what you're good at and let consumers find another place to get a greasy veg burger.



amy
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#30 Old 04-27-2004, 11:13 PM
 
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Vegans are too small a minority to care about anyway, and they probably wouldn't visit mcdonalds. (Since vegans are more likely to be boycotting them) Shame, but that's the way the corporate c***s think.



Well, notwithstanding your psychic ability to determine this as fact, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and add that they've been given more than enough cause to believe as much by radical vegans who sue McDonalds restaurants, burn them, and boycott them.



BTW, with profits up 56%, they're probably feeling pretty good. Wonder if they'll be able to sustain that with their new CEO.
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