You know the world is reaching a plant-based-food tipping point when McDonald's starts offering a vegan Happy Meal. The fast-food chain just announced that starting in January 2020 (strategically timed with “Veganuary” promotions in England), it will be serving its first-ever 100% vegan meal which includes “Veggie Dippers” along with fries. (The products will be available at UK locations starting January 2, 2020.)  

Having vegan options is not anything new for McDonald’s: They have rolled out items like the McVegan and other offerings in various countries, such as their Beyond Burger in Ontario, Canada, where it's considered in the test phase. What’s new is McDonald’s stressing that the vegan items are prepared in a designated area, something the company is making sure to emphasize. In a recent lawsuit, Burger King was sued by a diner who said the company claimed that they were selling a "meatless" Impossible Whopper, but because it was cooked on the same grill as the regular burgers, trace amounts of meat got on it. BK is currently offering to micro-wave the meatless patties for anyone who prefers that option. 

Courtesy of McDonald's

McDonald's also has had the meal accredited by the Vegan Society, just in case consumers need that extra bit of assurance that McDonald’s is, in fact, delivering on the promise of a vegan meal. 

While many people are happy to see mainstream food producers offer plant-based options and accept the possibility of a little cross-contamination (or just turn a blind-eye to the cooking methods), there are others that are outraged by the possibility. McDonald's has been criticized in the past for not having separate production areas, and as vegan food comes into the mainstream, consumers are growing more vocal about the cross-contamination concerns.

As for this new McDonald’s vegan meal, let’s hope this is a genuine effort to cater to the growing demand of plant-based eaters, and respect their concerns, not just a marketing gimmick to win some accolades and get in on the Veganuary conversation. Until January, and our next trip to the UK, we wait for the chance to taste test it to find out for ourselves.