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Fast food restaurants need more vegetarian options

Anjali Chand / The SPOKE

By Riddima Pandey, Staff Reporter

Whenever I travel, I am constantly worrying about finding places to eat that will fit my vegetarian diet. Fast food restaurants, such as McDonald’s, either have no vegetarian options or only have options that do not provide a fulfilling meal. It is not fair, and people’s diets should not be the reason why they are excluded from fast food restaurants.

With the vegetarian population growing, fast food restaurants need to expand their menus. According to Vegetarian Times, a publication focused on the food, culture, health and lifestyle of people with plant-based diets, as of 2020 7.3 million people in the U.S. are vegetarian, a number that is still growing.

As a result of limited options, I have ended up spending hours looking for food that fits my vegetarian diet. While others get to enjoy full satisfactory meals, I am always stuck with only a side salad or french fries.

This does not just apply to local restaurants. In areas like theme parks, where you cannot bring your own food, vegetarians often have difficulty to find food.

When I visited SeaWorld Orlando, it took more than an hour to find something to eat for lunch. The only restaurant I found that fit my diet was located on the other side of the park, and I had to wait in an hour-long line. I was surprised by how many people wanted to eat at the restaurant.

Vegetarian options do not only appeal to those who are vegetarian but also people who eat meat. Non-vegetarians do not always eat meat. Growing awareness of environmental concerns, animal welfare rights and health is convincing consumers to remove meat and fish from their diets. By appealing to a more diverse audience, fast food companies will gain more customers.

Not only will vegetarian options increase the number of customers at fast food restaurants, but they will also benefit the environment.

According to Dr. Michael Clark, a researcher on the impact of food on the environment at the University of Oxford, and Dr. David Tilman, an ecologist from the University of Minnesota, the production of plant-based foods generally has smaller consequences on the environment than the production of meat and farmed fish. Creating more options not only benefits the vegetarian community, but it also benefits the environment.

Restaurants may argue that vegetarian alternatives already exist on their menus. Foods, such as the Impossible Burger, tries to mimic the texture and taste of meat. The burger is made of leghemoglobin, a protein found in leguminous plants.

However, the Food and Drug Administration has expressed its concern about Impossible Foods’ leghemoglobin product, which is derived from genetically modified yeast, since soy leghemoglobin protein has rarely been consumed by humans and could be an allergen.

Restaurants’ current vegetarian alternatives are not the best options and should be replaced with foods that are safe for the public and meet the needs of their diets.

The public demand for vegetarian alternatives is growing, and fast food restaurants need to start answering the call and give vegetarians more options. We deserve to eat too.

Riddima Pandey can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Riddima Pandey, Staff Reporter
Riddima Pandey is a sophomore and Staff Reporter for The Spoke. She has covered Multimedia, T/E Life, Opinion and sports games. Outside of The Spoke, she plays the flute for the Conestoga Marching Band, competes with the DECA Club and is a competitive badminton player.