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May 21, 2012 07:43 AM

Why do no national burger chains have veggie burgers?

It seems to me that selling a veggie burger would only be a benefit to a chain like McDonald's.
Anyone know why this has not been done?
It would seem that there is vast untapped potential here.
I know I would go more often if I could get a veggie cheeseburger with fries and a coke.

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  1. If it had a large enough market, it would be there. But it is not viable. Neither is a locovar or organic chain. All fringes on the North American economy.

    Check back in thirty years.

    12 Replies

      Check out Life Alive. Currently only in Boston Metro but I heard from a friend who manages the Salem site that they are expanding to other states. It's happening, and it's not going to take thirty years!

      1. re: dddanieljjjamesss

        Again, there are enough non-burger-chain vegetarian choices around but that doesn't address the initial question regarding established burger chains not catering to the non-meat crowd.

        1. re: ferret

          Its simple. Vegetarians don't go there enough to justify the cost. McDonalds Wendys and BK have all test marketed veggie burgers and clearly found its not worth it. They are in the business to make money not create good health.

            1. re: rozz01

              Yeah, McDonalds actually served a vegan burger for a while (they used the Boca Burger brand), but demand was lackluster, so they canned it. I ate it every chance got, but I'm only one person.

              BK sells a veggieburger that looks pretty good, but it's not vegan so I haven't had it.

              1. re: choctastic

                i was the other person who was frequently eating the McDonald's veggie burger.
                i wanted them to keep it on the menu.
                i suspect there were only two of us. . . .

                1. re: westsidegal

                  Last time I was in BC I had McD's veg burger, was the last I ever saw of it. If they had kept it around I'd actually go there

                2. re: choctastic

                  Doesn't BK's burger use egg as a binder?

                3. re: rozz01

                  But you will throw up if you try that. I have tried, yuck !!!!

                  1. re: rozz01

                    Pretty sure they serve Gardenburgers...not sure if they grill them on the same grill as the meat though!

                  2. re: cwdonald

                    I go to BK every time fast food becomes necessary... If there are other people with me I'll insist on going to BK. In that sense-- you can't measure how your sales are affected by just the amount of veggie burgers sold, but also the other people with the person buying veggie burgers.

                    1. re: lenwood

                      Absolutely. I won't go to any other fast food place (and even BK is a very rare thing for us), and so my non-vegetarian family ends up eating there too.

            2. Because they are not profitable.

              Certain chains (e.g. McDonald's) has veggie burgers in non-US markets. But I'm sure their market research shows that the US market does not want a vegetarian burger alternative, and if they offered one it would not be profitable.

              That said, Burger King has a Veggie Burger.

              6 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                A friend of mine had a veggie burger at McDonald's in India. He said if they made that here, he would eat at McDonald's all the time.

                1. re: LisaPA

                  McDonald's has tested it in the US so if it's not showing up in stores it's because there's no market for it. Like the controversy with their fries having a beef fat coating I don't think real vegetarians would trust that it's prepared separately from animal products and for those who are less stringent, it's just not that large a market.

                  1. re: LisaPA

                    Your friend alone, or your friend and bunch of people like your friend, are probably not enough to make a veggie burger at McDonald's profitable.

                    I'm pretty sure McDonald's has researched this in the U.S. market and concluded that crappy salads in plastic boxes is a better play.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      The salad appeals more to dieters than a veggie burger would so they're not really aiming for the same market.

                    2. re: LisaPA

                      Yeah, it's all about the sales. Most vegetarians here wouldn't even consider McDonald's even if they had a veg burger.

                      I saw a kosher McDonald's in Buenos Aires once. I later found out it was the only one outside of Israel.

                      1. re: HungWeiLo

                        Kosher is a little different. MacDonald's has stated their reasons for not opening kosher outlets, and it is due to a worry that secular patrons might inadvertently enter a kosher MacDonalds and order a cheeseburger or a milkshake (kosher rules prohibit cooking or serving meat and dairy together)

                        The worry is that this would cause disappointment that would damage the brand (They' may be right. I mean, Pity the poor employee who has to explain to some hungry dude that he can't have cheese on his burger because in the Book of Exodus it is written that ...)

                        There are kosher Macdonalds in Israel, a country where people expect meat and dairy to be served in separate restaurants. And also one in a heavily Jewish neighborhood of Buenos Aires, although note that it is at the very top of a large mall, you have to go past the regular MacDonalds, and up another escalator to find it - you won't stumble on it by accident.

                        Vegan/veggie is different, since it would be a matter of adding a veggie burger, not of changing anything else on the menu.

                        Kosher and vegan are marketing decisions. Marketers know how many vegans there are in a country and where they eat. They'll offer veggie burgers when they see $$

                        But note that a few years ago MacDonalds stopped frying its fries in beef fat. Meat fats makes fried food taste better. Consumers prefer lard to vegan oils in blind taste tests. But consumers think lard is gross. MacDonalds responded to consumer opinion.

                  2. Burger King. I hate them, but they do have the BK Veggie, even here in rural Indiana. It's a Morningstar patty.

                    If we're going to go into casual dining, you can get either a Gardenburger or a Boca patty on any of Red Robin's burgers. I. LOVE. IT!

                    Burgerville (a PNW chain) has a spicy black bean burger on their menu.

                    1. One more reason to stay out of those big chain restaurants!

                      1 Reply
                      1. Burger King does have Morningstar Farms veggie burgers here in CT, but if you really want to see a confused server, order a Whopper, hold the beef

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: mmalmad

                          We have the option here in Iowa also. It was odd to finally be able to order food at the same place as my parents.

                          1. re: mmalmad

                            Do they look like a confused puppy, cocking their head to the side?

                            1. re: bearfromobx

                              My parents suffered through Morningstar for years, sometimes even liked it

                            2. re: mmalmad

                              I used to order a "vegetable whopper" all the time when I was in college! It was always in the drive-thru but I did usually get a long pause after I ordered. It is so strange, it tasted exactly the same as the whopper with beef but obviously without the texture there from the beef patty.