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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarianism in the News

Editors note: Since this story was written, McDonald's has changed its barbecue sauce that now includes no animal products. The current barbecue sauce contains the following ingredients:
High fructose corn syrup, water, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, distilled vinegar, salt, modified corn starch, soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt), mustard flour, dextrose, soybean oil, xanthan gum, sugar, natural hickory smoke flavor, caramel color, sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate (preservatives), garlic dehydrated, spices, cellulose gum, malic acid, onion dehydrated, natural flavors (vegetable source), succinic acid.
The ingredients for the original barbecue sauce appear in the story below.

Posted 3/104

May 1, 2003 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

McDonald's Grills
McVeggie Burgers
In Beef, Chicken, Fish Fat

Once again a major fast food chain is offering a vegetarian sandwich that is doomed to be ignored by the vegetarian community. This time it is McDonald's with its McVeggie Burger on a Whole Wheat Bun that is being test marketed at ten locations in Southern California.

The McVeggie Burger is not likely to be embraced by vegetarians because it is prepared on the same grill as all of the other sandwiches. There is no provision to avoid cross contamination. VIP was told by a McDonald's representative that the grill is scraped and wiped with a towel before cooking the McVeggie burger. "I wouldn't want to take the chance if I were a strict vegan," he added.

When VIP asked a McDonald's representative about preparing the burger on a separate small portable grill, we were told that was not likely. It would require additional equipment each franchisee would have to purchase.

As was the case with the Burger King Veggie Burger, this sandwich is described by McDonald's representatives as "geared to the lighter side of McDonald's. It' s for people who are working on their weight. It's not intended for religious-based or serious vegetarians."

The VIP story on the Burger King Veggie Burger in April 2002 did note that the company made a concession to strict vegetarians by offering to warm the patty in a microwave. Burger King microwaves could not cook the patty, only warm it. Vegans could only eat the microwaved patty because the bun and the mayonnaise contained animal ingredients. The Burger King Veggie Burger story can be found at http://www.vegparadise.com/news15.html

The McVeggie Burger features a vegan patty made exclusively for McDonald's by Yves Veggie Cuisine and is similar to one offered at 1250 McDonald's restaurants in Canada. The bun and the patty are vegan, but the barbecue sauce is not. Only McDonald's, well known for its flavor enhancers, can answer why barbecue sauce needs egg yolks, chicken fat, beef stock, beef extract, and rendered beef fat. For more on McDonald's flavor enhancers see http://www.vegparadise.com/news3.html

The bun is a nutritionist's nightmare. Although the sandwich is labeled as containing a whole-wheat bun, the first ingredient is bleached white flour. Nutritionists would shudder after reading a label that lists high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oil along with a myriad of preservatives and stabilizers. Though not highly nutritious, the bun is vegan.

The nutritionist would instantly notice the sandwich contains 8 grams of fat with 1.5 grams saturated. Doing the math would reveal that 6.5 grams were a combination of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and trans fat. Trans fat is now considered as much of an artery clogger as saturated fat. With the new labeling soon to be introduced, companies like McDonald's will have to indicate how much of that 6.5 grams is trans fat. A nutrition savvy person would also raise an eyebrow reading that the sandwich has 1490 mg of sodium, more than half of what a person should eat in an entire day.

McDonalds is not launching the Southern California McVeggie Burger with an advertising blitz. The only announcement is a sign on the window of the locations offering the sandwich. When VIP went to one of the locations, we were told they were all out of the sandwich, and they were not certain when there would be more. They also had no printed information on the nutritional data or ingredients of the sandwich.

Anyone not concerned with cross contamination can taste the sandwich at one of the10 test market locations around Southern California. The sandwich is currently available at outlets in Torrance, Gardena, Costa Mesa, Newbury Park, Northridge, Perris, Artesia, Santa Clarita, Pico Rivera, and Long Beach.

VIP feels that if McDonald's truly wants to capture the vegetarian market, they can easily do it with this sandwich. By contracting with Yves Veggie Cuisine for a tasty vegan patty with 24 grams of protein, they have the basis for a popular vegetarian sandwich. By eliminating the BBQ sauce and substituting animal-free mustard or ketchup and preparing the patty on a separate grill, they would have a sandwich that vegetarians and vegans would embrace.

The Nutrition Facts and ingredients are as follows:

McVeggie Burger on a Whole Wheat Bun with Barbecue Sauce
Calories 350
Calories from Fat 70
Total Fat 8 g
Saturated Fat 1.5 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 1490 mg
Total Carbohydrates 47 g
Dietary Fiber 9 g
Sugar 11 g
Protein 24 g
Vitamin A 6%
Vitamin C 15%
Calcium 30%
Iron 35%

Veggie Patty: Water, soy protein product, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, vital wheat gluten, modified cellulose, spices, salt, evaporated cane juice powder, hydrolyzed corn and soy protein, natural flavor (vegetable source), yeast extract, caramel color, vitamin B1 (thiamine hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacinamide), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), pantothenic acid (calcium pantothenate), reduced iron, zinc (zinc oxide).

Wheat Bun: Water, flour [(wheat flour bleached and enriched with thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, iron), malted barley flour], whole wheat flour, cracked wheat flour, high fructose corn syrup, wheat gluten, yeast, vegetable oil (partially hydrogenated soybean oil). Contains 2 percent or less of salt, mono- and diglycerides, propionic acid, phosphoric acid, calcium sulfate, ammonium chloride, ascorbic acid, azodicarbomide, corn flour, propionate, calcium flow agent, diglycerides, ethoxylated mono- and digycerides.

BBQ Sauce: Water, high fructose corn syrup, tomato paste, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, distilled vinegar, onions, modified food starch, salt, molasses, Worcestershire sauce (distilled vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, water, salt, caramel color, garlic powder, sugar, spices, anchovies, tamarind, natural flavors (vegetable source)), natural flavors (maltodextrin, chicken fat, salt, yeast extract, modified food starch, rendered beef fat, beef extract, garlic*, beef stock, sesame seed oil, egg yolk*, alpha tocopherol as an antioxidant), natural hickory smoke flavor, caramel color, spices, soybean oil, chili pepper, extractives of paprika, onion*, sodium benzoate (preservative), mustard flour, garlic*, citric acid, propylene glycol alginate, ground celery. * dehydrated

Pickle Slices: Cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate (preservative), natural flavor (vegetable source), alum, polysorbate 80, turmeric.

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