It may be best known for its burgers – but McDonald’s has become the latest in a string of major food outlets to cater for our growing interest in a plant-based diet.
As millions join the ‘Veganuary’ campaign – giving up meat, dairy and fish for this month – the fast food giant is today launching its first vegetarian Happy Meal for children.
It features a breaded red pesto goujon wrap rather than the burger or chicken nuggets that come with the standard Happy Meal.
A similar goujon will also be served in the chain’s new Spicy Veggie Wrap on its main adult menu.
The new Happy Meal Veggie Wrap was created with the Vegetarian Society and the Britmums network, which put together a panel of parents and children to help choose the final recipe.
The goujon in the tortilla wrap is made mainly from yellow split peas, tomato, Arborio rice, sundried tomato pesto, tomato paste, red pepper, olive oil, herbs and some sugar, and is served with tomato ketchup and shredded lettuce.
The ingredients are dairy-free and vegan but the wraps pass through the same toaster as the chain’s buns, which contain milk, so McDonald’s labels it as vegetarian.
Supermarkets, restaurant chains and other food retailers have launched a raft of vegetarian and vegan products to reflect changing eating habits.
For example, Marks and Spencer is launching a vegan range called Plant Kitchen this week, while TGI Fridays is to offer a vegan burger that looks like meat, with a pink centre that ‘bleeds’ beetroot juice.
And Greggs is launching a vegan sausage roll based on the meat substitute Quorn, a mycoprotein derived from a fungus found in soil.
Research by McDonald’s found that a third of its customers believe it is important to eat more plant-based meals.
A survey of new year resolutions this week found that 2.6million people – around 5 per cent of the population – will attempt to go vegetarian or vegan in January as part of the Veganuary campaign.
It showed more young people will attempt to give up meat in January (8 per cent) than will turn away from booze (7 per cent) as part of a post-Christmas health kick.
Millions now define themselves as ‘flexitarians’, cutting down on animal products and often going without meat for several days at a time.
Warnings about the effects of livestock farming on the environment, coupled with concerns about health and animal welfare, are the main driving forces.
The Happy Meal Veggie Wrap has 209 calories – less than the 250 in a burger but higher than the 173 in the four chicken nuggets offered on the children’s menu. It has less fat than both of these choices.
Lynne Elliot, of the Vegetarian Society, said: ‘There’s a growing demand for veggie food and it’s fantastic to see McDonald’s meeting the needs of their customers.’
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.