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Seth Tibbott, founder of the American Tofurky brand, has been a prominent figure in the vegan community since the company was founded in 1995. Tofurky sells a wide range of vegan alternatives to meat products but is best known for its meat-free turkey alternative, which is served at tens of thousands of dinner tables every holiday season. On a recent trip to Europe, Tibbott went into a Finnish McDonald’s restaurant to try the McVegan burger, an exclusive burger to branches in Finland and Sweden. This was his official verdict.
A purely vegan meal from McDonalds sounds almost like a fairytale, since the fast-food industry isn’t particularly well known for being vegan-friendly. For a long time, it seemed as if the only vegan option available at a fast-food restaurant was the soda.
The McVegan burger, which can also be ordered with vegan fries that haven’t been cooked in beef fat, was trialed in the Tampere branch of McDonalds in late 2017, and rolled out throughout Finland and Sweden a few months later after positive feedback and over 150,000 sales in a single month. However, the burger still isn’t available in any other countries, despite greater demand for more vegan fast food. A petition asking fast-food chain White Castle to sell their Impossible Burger in US restaurants recently received over 40,000 signatures.
In a Facebook post, Tibbott posted photos of the food he ordered and wrote, “Never thought I would live to see this. Last night’s dinner in Helsinki, Finland. Not too bad! Progress.” This reaction is probably in response to Scandinavia still having a prominent hunting culture and being much slower than other Western nations to adapt to vegan food.
He continued: “Well, by today’s burger standards…it’s decidedly middle of the road but I left feeling satisfied overall. Epic historic moment. Today only Finland and Sweden, tomorrow the world!” He also posted a picture of himself in a Tofurky hoodie and baseball cap happily pointing to the burger.
While McDonalds is still far from fine cuisine, it seems that the McVegan burger has received the Tofurky seal of approval. On the same visit, Tibbott also noted the large range of vegetarian and vegan foods available in Finnish supermarkets: “I counted 53 frozen vegan items in the supermarket across the street. You go, Finland!”
Ever since the veganism trend took off, Finnish food companies have been developing lots of meat-free alternatives such as Härkis (made from broad beans) and pulled oats. Tofurky is also one of the brands available in the ‘vege’ section in Finnish supermarkets. This is a big change, considering that only a few years ago, it was almost impossible to find meat-free alternatives in Finnish supermarkets and restaurants, but now they are becoming even more popular than some of the meat items.
With such a notable figure in the vegan community giving his personal thumbs-up, vegans across the world might soon get their wishes of tasting the McVegan burger outside of Scandinavia.