Vegan Fast Food for Thought: Can It Ever Truly Be Vegan

No doubt you’ve all heard the drama: no one can decide whether having fast-food chains jumping on the vegan bandwagon is a good thing, or a bad thing. We’ll try our best to remain neutral here because we would never aim to ‘police’ veganism, but we did some research (and asked you guys) and this is how things weigh up.

So there’s no way you can have missed the absolute onslaught of vegan options that have been popping up lately – from the Gregg’s sausage roll to the Impossible Burger at Burger King (the animal testing debate is a story for another time…) it’s “all aboard the vegan train!” for the majority of UK and US high street chains. And who can blame them? Thanks in part to P*ers Morg*n, Greggs saw a massive 9.6% surge in sales, and KFC’s Quorn chicken burger trial sold out in less than a week.

For some, there’s nothing worse than stepping into McDonald’s and seeing people chowing down on animal carcasses left, right and centre. It might be seen as ‘extreme’ but it’s also understandable – and often admirable – that some vegans aim to only support 100% vegan fast food establishments. Whilst there’s no doubt that every single one of us wishes they could do the same, it’s not always feasible. Where you spend your money depends massively upon your location, your financial situation and no doubt upon whether your friends and family are vegan too. So is it really wrong to get a veggie burger with your mates after a few too many in town? (Vegan) Fast food does what it says on the tin – it’s there for convenience, when you need it most. If there aren’t any vegan supermarkets near you, then is it any different to popping into the local Tesco Express for a carton of soya milk? Hands up who wishes they lived around the corner from a Veganz… 

Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?

So granted, it’s not ideal to support companies that invest in inhumane farming practice, but what about the balance of supply and demand? If vegans only buy vegan from vegan places, then the larger corporations that sit closer to the source of the problem aren’t going to see the bigger picture. As more places catch on, undoubtedly more 100% vegan places will open for us to support. Not only that, it’s got to be better to offer an option that doesn’t directly contribute to the meat, dairy or egg industries – especially when it’s so close to the real deal that even omnis might get on board. 

We rate Greta’s take on it – even if we have no idea what Doomie’s are!

Depending on your reasoning behind going vegan and how strict you are, the possibility of cross-contamination can really make you cringe. There are some fab places out there that say loud and clear that they use separate fryers for vegan food (it should be taken as seriously as an allergy, right?! See this absolute nightmare!), but Burger King have gone in the opposite direction. They’ve outright stated that their Impossible Burger is only plant-based (not vegan) because it’s cooked on the same grill as beef and chicken. At least they’re honest, I guess… It might be enough for you to know that you haven’t contributed to the animal’s suffering in any way, but for others they don’t even want to be associated with it. That makes Burger King’s burger as well as McDonald’s vegetarian goujons a no-go.

Zoe made some excellent points regarding the difference in definition of plant-based versus vegan, and we’re here for it. There’s no denying that these chains have a bad rep, and for good reason too:

McDonald’s have come under fire recently because their paper straws aren’t easily recyclable – but to be honest, I think that’s the least of our worries. They’re still biodegradable, unlike cup lids, straws, sauce tubs, coffee cups, single-use cutlery and countless other items at other chains. Whether anywhere disposes of them properly anyway is another matter, so you’re better off taking your own reusables – we’re obsessed with these gorgeous straws by Dearest Fannie at the moment!

So maybe it’s a case of living within your means. No one can say you’re any less vegan for being stuck and going as a last resort, or because you can’t afford to go anywhere else, or even because you choose to. We’re all out here doing our best to reduce suffering in this world, and mustn’t judge others for sticking to their definition. The best we can do is encourage and nurture after the seed has been planted, in the hopes of not only helping the future of animals and the planet, but also in the hopes of making the individual happier and healthier.

There are some great alternatives so you’re not supporting those-which-shall-not-be-named if you don’t want to – especially if you’re based in a city. Check out Temple of Seitan and What the Pitta in London, V-Rev and Deaf Institute in Manchester, Down the Hatch and Frost Burger in Liverpool, and The Flying Duck in Glasgow! And if you live in the middle of nowhere like most of the UK… well, then it’s a Pot Noodle sandwich à la @uglyvegan for you I’m afraid.

Did I order one of everything from Temple of Seitan? Yes.

Did I have any regrets? Absolutely not.

So after giving all that info a proper chew… Where do you stand? Most of you sounded positive on our Instagram post, but we’d love to hear more! As long as you don’t start any beef (tofu?) then the soapbox is all yours.