One of the most contentious issues in modern society is veganism. Love or loathe the plant-based revolution, it is here to stay. But unfortunately, unless you're on the side of hardcore vegans, your opinion is going to be met with disdain, with some vegans going as far as to avoid using money that contains animal products and turning their pets vegan too.
As a result of this militancy, vegans have, arguably, undermined their cause, causing many meat-eaters to become angry at their incessant attempts to get them to convert. That being said, more people than ever are adopting plant-based diets, so there is also an argument to be made that it's working. In the US alone, a staggering 400 million fewer animals were slaughtered for food in 2014 compared to how many were killed in 2007, The Humane Society of the United States reported.
To see the shocking moment a vegan activist was arrested for filming a dying cow, check out the video below:
This dramatic change in how many people are eating is now being reflected by the increased number of vegan and vegetarian options on the market. In 2019, which has already been dubbed "the year of the vegan", McDonald's has announced the launch of its first-ever vegan and vegetarian Happy Meals respectively and other popular retailers, like the UK-based Greggs which launched its first ever vegan sausage roll this month, try to capitalize on this growing demographic.
And personally, as a vegetarian of six years, I'm all for it - although I have no plans on slipping the two cats I live with vegetables instead of meat any time soon. Personally, I think people should be allowed to eat what they want. Knowledge is, at the end of the day, power, and countless scientific studies have proven that a diet high in meat is bad for our health.
It's also worth noting that some people can't eat meat for religious reasons, and, given that we are supposed to be living in a civilized and advanced society, I think it's safe to say that everyone deserves to be catered too.
However, if the complaints of McDonald's customers on Twitter are anything to go by, the fast food giant still has a long way to go when it comes to getting things right with its plant-based customers. Namely, because instead of serving them the vegetable filling they expected when purchasing the chain's Spicy Veggie Wrap, some have been given chicken.
One disgruntled vegetarian Twitter user by the name of Eleanor (@elenor_dix) recently took to the microblogging website to shame the chain for serving her chicken instead of the vegetarian - and Vegetarian Society approved - option:
"I ordered a spicy veggie wrap from one of your stores and thanks to the sheer incompetency of some of your staff I've been given chicken. I've been veggie my whole life and this has literally put me in tears as I ingested part of the wrap thinking it was veggie."
Not wanting anyone else to have a similar experience, she continued, "please can you ensure your staff are fully trained and competent when issuing out food in future please. This is a really important issue and can easily offend many customers if mistakes like these are made often."
Now, while I am all for people getting what they pay for, I think it's fair to say that McDonald's workers should be cut some slack. They are working an extremely stressful environment on low wages - so it's no wonder that mistakes can and do happen.
I experienced a similar incident in December 2017, and although I was upset that I'd eaten chicken, I accepted the restaurant's apology and refund, as well as their explanation that it was a mistake made during the lunchtime rush and that they would be making every effort to ensure that it does not happen to other vegetarian customers in the future.
In this vein, Twitter user Brandon (@Brndntrnr3) responded, "You lose your right to complain about things like this when you choose to eat out - especially at a fast food joint. If you are that selective about your diet, maybe you should make your own veggie wrap at home? - A fellow #vegetarian. #entitled #embarrassing #meatismurder"
Others used Eleanor's complaint as an opportunity to point out the disparity which exists in 2019 between first and third world problems with a user by the name of First Day (@FirstDayPromo) writing, "2019. 1 in 7 live in hunger worldwide. Also 2019. Girl in tears as fast food restaurant ruins womens [sic] diet."
However, it was rightfully pointed out by IIona Lejiete (@PeachVonT) that if everyone followed a plant-based diet, world hunger could easily be eradicated: "We could literally feed all the starving people on this plant 7 fold with the food we feed animals for your steaks and burgers. You are the ones keeping them starving."
And while it would be easy to put Eleanor's experience down to an unfortunate mistake, it appears that it's happening to more than a handful of McDonald's customers who have taken to Twitter to complain about their experiences.
"Hi @McDonalds just ordered the veggie wrap from your store in Byker, turns out you gave me chicken!!!!!!" wrote another customer, Emma (@emma_longley), this month. "This is disgraceful I'm fuming was so looking forward to this!!! I'm a strict vegetarian and just took a mouthful of chicken, thanks a lot. #Veganuary @watchdog."
This is clearly a difficult situation, and while I do empathize with the overworked employees of fast food restaurants like McDonald's, it's safe to say that a basic principle of good trading standards is giving people what they pay for, especially when those goods are so closely linked to their beliefs which, if broken by accident, could cause a lot of upset.
Hopefully, McDonald's will take suitable action to prevent incidents like this from happening in the future, either by giving its staff more training on how to ensure vegetarians and vegans only get what they pay for, as Eleanor suggested, or hiring more staff to relieve the pressure restaurants are put under at busy times when the likelihood of mistakes is at its highest.