THE HERBIVORE'S DILEMMA

Putting a veggie burger on In-N-Out’s menu is un-American, carnivores say

The idea was simple enough. If In-N-Out added a veggie burger to its menu, it could attract a whole a new set of customers.

Oh, well. The vegetarian-friendly idea has been met with withering scorn from the beloved burger chain’s most ardent fans. Vegans and vegetarians had no business starting a veggie burger petition asking the burger joint to add a new item to its menu, they say.

The petition was started by Emily Byrd, who works at The Good Food Institute (GFI), a Washington DC-based group that represents the interests of the clean food movement. Byrd argued in her petition that:

As a company that prides itself on both customer satisfaction and ethical business practices, adding a meat-free option is a no-brainer. And by making this single addition, In-N-Out would be making a huge statement that it truly cares about its customers’ health and the health of the planet.

Byrd’s petition generated about 35,000 signatures in two weeks. It also mobilized a slew of carnivorous folks with strong opinions about the beloved West Coast burger chain.

  • One person posted on GFI’s Facebook page that the group, “needs to drop the bullying tactics. In-N-Out can sell whatever foods they want. It’s called a FREE market for a reason, free enterprise, freedom of choice.”
  • Another person held a similarly strong opinion: “Bunch of whiny bitches these days,” he wrote. “Petition??? Haha. Start your own business maybe instead of prancing around trying to tell others what to do.”

So much wrath was directed at Byrd that she wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times with the headline: “Will adding a veggie burger to the In-N-Out menu destroy the country?”

The Irvine, California burger chain itself isn’t engaging in the debate. Owned by the Synder family, the chain operates more than 300 locations across six states and commands an intense sense of loyalty from its customers.

“We have had the same menu since 1948, so we just don’t change things here,” a spokeswoman said. “We do offer a grilled cheese but it’s not on the regular menu item, it is on our secret menu.”

The spokeswoman declined to answer questions about the petition or whether the chain has in the past considered adding a vegetarian option.

The secret menu, of course, is not much of a secret. The options may not be listed in individual stores, but the lore behind them has become mainstream. Even so, it’s not enough to satisfy vegetarians, who describe the In-N-Out grilled cheese as not much more than “a cheese-slathered bun.”

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