The foremost non-profit organisation encouraging people to embrace vegan diets does not expect Burger King to invest in new cooking equipment for its ‘Rebel Whopper’ plant-based burger – even though there is controversy over the fact it is cooked on the same grill as meat burgers.
The Rebel Grill burger hit UK stores yesterday and while the patty itself is vegan, it is prepared on the same grill as the meat burgers and served with egg mayonnaise unless customers request otherwise.
This has already led to issues in other countries where Burger King has launched the product, including the US where a legal case is even taking place.
But Veganuary – which is regarded as one of the most high-profile promoters of veganism – has leapt to Burger King’s defence and suggested that the fixation on the method of cooking is missing the bigger picture.
In its first direct comments on the matter this morning, it said that insisting Burger King cooks all of its plant-based burgers on a separate grill would “severely limit” the availability of this option as it would require a major change of infrastructure.
While it acknowledged that some people do not want to ingest any form of animal product including even trace amounts, it said that most people go vegan to spare animals from suffering or reduce their environmental impact.
It stated: “Eating a plant-based burger – whether cooked on the same grill as a meat one or on a separate vegan grill – will have exactly the same impact for animals and the planet.
“The same amount of suffering will be spared, the same amount of forest and water will be saved, and it will be the same reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, for all of the important issues that Veganuary – and most vegans – are trying to address through their food choices it makes absolutely no difference whether the plant-based patty is cooked separately or on the same grill as the meat.”
Veganuary said the biggest difference made to animals and the planet comes from non-vegans choosing a plant-based menu option and then reordering it again.
“And that’s exactly who Burger King’s Rebel Whopper is aimed at, non-vegans who want to reduce their meat consumption for health or environmental reasons or are considering going vegan. It isn’t aimed at existing vegans. Burger King is not trying to ‘capitalise on the vegan pound’; it is catering for the growing number of flexitarians and meat-reducers.
“And this is something we should welcome if we’re vegan for the animals or the planet, not just because every single plant-based meal makes a difference in and of itself, but it will also hopefully help the people choosing the plant-based option to see that vegan food is tasty and convenient and lead them to order it more often.”
The organisation said that increasing the availability of plant-based options, particularly those that are similar to meat and likely to appeal to non-vegans, was the best way to create more vegans – and if that means existing kitchen infrastructure is used it is fine with that.
It added: “Insisting that Burger King cook all of its plant-based burgers on a separate grill would severely limit the availability of this option as it requires a major change of infrastructure. For the sake of the billions of animals suffering in factory farms and our planet on the brink of ecological disaster, any delay in rolling out a plant-based burger is completely unjustifiable.”