Burger King recently announced that it will offer a veggie burger at all of its 8,000+ outlets across the country. For animal rights activists, that is a double edged sword.
Alex Hershaft wrote an e-mail letter to an animal rights newsletter highlighting the possibilities and perils of Burger King’s decision. Of course Hershaft couldn’t just discuss the issue without first giving a rundown of what many in the animal rights movement really long for,
Once up on a time, in our wildest dreams, we may have picture victory as an array of slaughterhouses and fast food chains lying in smoldering ruins, or at the very least, undergoing bankruptcy proceedings . . .
Smoldering ruins? And people in the animal rights movement wonder why the press tends to depict them as a bunch of nutbags.
But, moving on, Hershaft argues that,
As a welcome reality check, Burger King, the evil transnational corporate giant, has handed us a beautiful present for this year’s Meatout observance: a real veggie burger. Not just in a dozen avant-garde outlets in Greenwich Village, but in all 8,300 outlets throughout America.
Not that this will make much of a difference to the true vegan fanatics, since as Hershaft notes the vegan patty will be grilled along side burgers, the mayonnaise Burger King uses is not vegan, and there is “butter flavor” in the bun (and, lets not forget, “Moreover, BK is still the evil transnational corporate giant.”)
But, still, here is big opportunity for the animal rights movement. Just get everyone in America to buy veggie burgers at Burger King rather than burgers, and save the lives of many farm animals. “One of the nicest things that we can do for these wretched animals,” Hershaft wrote, “is to promote this product to all our friends and supporters.”
This is especially important because, as Hershaft notes,
You can be sure that all the other fast food chains are waiting to see how this product does. If it succeeds, it will prevent the suffering and death of millions. But, if it fails, it will set us back substantially. We absolutely can not afford to let that happen.
So, allow me to go out on a limb here for a moment — this veggie burger is going to fail. In fact, I hope that Burger King at some point releases figures on just how many veggie burgers they sell, because I doubt Burger King’s target market overlaps very much with people who are vegetarians/vegans.
If Hershaft and others are counting on the success of Burger King’s veggie burger to save animals, they’re in for a rude awakening.
Dreams, Reality, and Burger King. Alex Hershaft, E-mail, April 17, 2002.