Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vegan Fast Food Restaurants??? Bring 'em on!!!

Heather Mills (right), the ex-wife of Paul McCartney, started her own vegan restaurant in London called VBites in 2009. Now she's vowing that she's going to start a fast-food vegan chain that is going to be bigger than McDonald's. (Source)

Good for Heather. I've always said that vegan fast-food restaurants are one of the keys to winning over omnivores who'd never otherwise consider eating vegan food. If you deliver great food at an affordable cost, people will come.

Hard to say whether it'll really be bigger than McDonald's. As of 2007, McDonald's boasted 30,000 restaurants in 119 countries serving an estimated 50 million people every day. I'm sure the chain has grown in the last three years. Even in economic hard times - let me re-phrase that: especially in economic hard times - people still flock to McDonald's.

Veganism is a hard sell to omnivores. I know. I was an omnivore most of my life, as recently as last year. If you slap the label of "Vegan" on something, a hell of a lot of omnivores are going to go out of their way to avoid it. There is this notion - a false one, but a very, very widespread one - that vegan food tastes like, well, can I say it? Shit.

That's far from the truth. But it's impossible to deny that a lot of people think that.

So Heather Mills might be a tad ambitious. Plus she isn't helped by the fact that compared to other fast-food joints, the prices at VBites ($11 Caesar salads; $8 soya burgers; $12 mini-pizzas with soya cheese) are a little higher. You pay more for vegan chow at VBites. It would be nice to have a vegan fast-food restaurant with prices as cheap as the omnivore ones.

But Heather's heart is in a wonderful place. And I hope she does get that chain started. Because delicious vegan fast food will find a following, I'm convinced, and - who knows? - it might even draw some people away from Burger King, McDonald's, Wendy's, etc. etc. What a blessing that would be. And how nice it would be for vegans to have a place where there isn't only one damn token item on the menu (at the more thoughtful places!) for us to order.

Incidentally, Jessica Simpson's fiance', Eric Johnson (ex-San Francisco 49ers tight end) has said he also plans to open a vegan fast-food chain. (Source) We can only hope that both chains spread like gangbusters. Imagine vegans having to choose between two different fast-food places, the way omnivores debate Wendy's versus McDonald's (or McDonald's versus Burger King).

The day that happens, we'll know that veganism - to quote from the old TV show The Jeffersons - will be "a-movin' on up."


  1. I wish vegan foods could become popular enough for economy of scale to set in. There is no way animal products can compete with soya burgers, subsidies excluded, if volumes are the same.

  2. Re your observation that many people think vegan food tastes poorly prepared by an inept cook tastes bad whether vegan or not. Food with ingredients that are not tasty is not desirable...whether vegan or not.

    My wife fixes vegan lemon cake and chocolate zucchini bread that invariably gets raves when passed out as holiday treats. A common comment is that they can't believe it is vegan. The fact is vegan food is just as tasty as non-vegan all depends on the ingredients and the preparation...not whether it is vegan or non-vegan. The bonus for vegan food is that no one suffers or dies...while that doesn't impact the taste or the does impact lives and the heart.

  3. I wish Heather Mills much success on her venture. I'm certain that if vegan food were tasty, convenient and cheap, it would sell as much as any other fast food. Loving Hut is the only restaurant doing this on a large scale, and their goal is ideological not profit driven. Until economically viable, subsidies will be needed to encourage new vegan restaurant entrants and hold prices down. Meanwhile, incremental improvements such as more vegan menu options (i.e. soy meats, as well as nutritious whole-grain items) in traditional and fast-food restaurants is a is to be welcomed.

  4. I agree with both posts. Veganelder, I think you're absolutely right about vegan food. I actually like it better than non-vegan food, and not just because animal products are absent from it. It tastes better. I do think an awful lot of omnivores lack awareness about vegan food and assume it wouldn't taste any good. A few years ago, a friend of mine offered me a vegan brownie. That was in my past life. I shuddered slightly and said, "Thanks but no thanks." And I was the kind of guy who supported human rights, peace, etc. Back in those days, I think I just had a lot false notions floating around in my head about vegan food. Now I know better. But I know a lot of omnivores - including people I really love - have those same unfortunate attitudes about vegan food. That's what needs to change, I think. If vegan fast food emerges as a success story, it will - I predict - go a long way toward tearing down those false assumptions.

  5. is her wooden leg going to be an option?