The world’s largest burger chain is officially adding a vegan soybean steak burger to its menus in Finland and Sweden.
The burger—appropriately dubbed the “McVegan”—will become a permanent menu item in the two countries starting Dec. 28, following a successful seven-week trial run in Tampere, the second-largest city in Finland. Not only is the soy burger a boon for fast-food-loving consumers who want to avoid meat, but also for Anamma, the vegan food company behind it.
McDonald’s indicated in a statement (link in Swedish) that it plans to work with Anamma as part of a long-term relationship to develop more dishes and flavors. “Vegetarian and vegan is a strong trend, and more and more people want to eat more plant-based today,” the company said. “With McVegan on the menu, it’s easy for everyone to try a good vegan burger, whether it’s for the good taste or for variety.”
For now, the McVegan will be a permanent fixture only in Sweden and Finland. It’s common for McDonald’s to test out menu ideas in local markets before deciding whether to ditch or adopt them on a broader scale. Last year, after using frozen patties for more than four decades, the chain tested using fresh beef for its burger patties in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Earlier this year it announced it would be expanding that menu item (paywall) to most McDonald’s in the American market, despite some of the logistical problems the product created.
Perhaps most interesting in the McVegan announcement, though, is the restaurant chain’s acknowledgement that meat burgers have an outsized impact on the climate. It shows not only that McDonald’s is aware of the downsides of meat production, but also that it’s looking for a way to use that as a marketing tool to sell a vegan alternative.
That’s how US food startups Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are marketing their vegan burger products as they gain traction in the American market. It’s also a selling point being used to drum up excitement for up-and-coming cell-cultured meat products.