Ronald McDonald

McDonald’s, famous for all its flavorful reconstituted meat offerings, has announced it will be opening its first-ever, totally vegetarian fast-food joint in India next year.

In a stunning move to answer the age-old question: what came first, the market or demand?, McDonald’s proves that the way to a shareholder’s heart is through giving the people what they want.

And in India, where cows are (supposed to be) held sacred, most people aren’t too keen on indulging in sacred cows, no matter how happy they are as meals.

Then there’s the country’s large Muslim population for McDonald’s to consider, most of which eschew eating pork.

The 271 restaurants already offering McHappiness in India serve chicken and fish, but this newest experiment will be opening near the Golden Temple in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar, where religious authorities forbid consumption of meat (and alcohol and tobacco) at the shrine.

But even among those Indians who will eat some meat, the country’s biggest seller is the McAloo Tikki burger, made out of spicy, fried potato, accounting for a quarter of total sales, according to Yahoo News.

Indians want vegetarian food. McDonald’s wants profits. It’s a free market win-win. The only party poopers who might have legitimate beef with the set up is the taxpayers who realize they’ll be footing the bill for a generation of diabetic obese fast-food addicts suffering from heart disease.

While we might bemoan the obvious nutritional and cultural losses associated with McDonald’s replacing traditional homemade Indian cuisine, I doubt we’ll hear too much criticism from the animals not being ground into patties or whipped into nuggets.

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In the United States, 800 million pounds of beef are served to McDonald’s customers each year, because that’s what we want. Health advocates blame so-called food deserts for making it too easy for people to make bad choices (like when the drive-thru at the end of the block is more convenient than cooking a real meal at home).

But this new vegetarian endeavor proves that these large corporations will provide people with what they demand. If people in the United States determined that pumping their children with antibiotic-laced, chemical-ridden, processed stomach fillers was not a good way to spend their money , McDonald’s would adapt.

Profiteers don’t care if their money comes from dead cows or steamed broccoli. When we look at our culture and criticize these larger-than-life corporations, we are really criticizing ourselves.

Subway, the world’s largest restaurant chain, has been trying to lure vegans into its American stores with three tantalizing vegan sandwich options: Sweet Riblet, Malibu Greek and Italian Black Bean.

Of course, they are all processed and sold by a company that does fuel the meat machine, but the move supports the notion that compassionate change can and will reflect consumer demand.

What if we all wanted clean air, unpolluted water, healthy citizens, enough food to feed the hungry and a world filled with wonder and diversity of life? That world is in our hands. We need only to ask.

Tina is a journalist and mother of three who's lived all her life in the South Bay of Los Angeles except for a two-year stint in the heart of Spain. She believes humans have the capacity to make this a beautiful world for all species to live, and mothers have a special charge to raise their children to enjoy, love and respect all creatures.

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