McDonald’s Goes Vegetarian in India

The first completely meatless outlets in the fast food chain's 57-year history are set to open by 2013.

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While McDonald’s may be known for its Big Mac containing two “all-beef patties” in its nearly 33,000 worldwide restaurants, a pair of forthcoming restaurants near religious centers in India will go completely meatless — the first all-vegetarian restaurants in the chain’s 57-year history.

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The first meatless McDonald’s is expected to debut in 2013 in northern India, according to the AFP, near the famous Golden Temple in Amritsar, an important Sikh center of worship. The second will open soon afterwards at the Vaishno Devi cave shrine, a popular Hindu attraction in India-controlled Kashmir.

McDonald’s has a long history of tailoring menu items to local tastes — witness its bid to offer baguettes in France — and South Asia is no different. Meat-based menu items will be replaced with vegetarian options, such as the fried, spicy potato patty in McDonald’s popular McAloo Tikki burger.

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Beef and pork aren’t too popular on Indian menus anyway: Hindus hold cows sacred and choose not to eat beef, while Muslims view pigs as unclean. The iconic Big Mac isn’t even sold in India: in its place the chicken-filled Maharaja Mac. Indeed, about half the items currently on the menu at McDonald’s 271 Indian restaurants are already vegetarian. Going the whole hog — er, potato — presents a growth opportunity. “When you look at the potential of the country, it’s one of the top priority countries and we’re laying the groundwork for capturing the market,” restaurant spokesman Rajesh Kumar Maini told the AFP. “We plan to nearly double the number of outlets to 500 plus within the next three years.”

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