By Nathan & Jennifer Winograd
It’s been 24 years since I stepped inside a Burger King. I had just finished the California Bar Exam, a three day mental siege, I was hungry, there was nothing else around in those dark, old days of veganism, and I ordered some French fries which just happen to be vegan. It’s been 35 years since Jennifer, my wife, ordered anything at Burger King as she went vegetarian at 16 and vegan at 21. And my 19 year old vegan son and 23 year old vegan daughter have never eaten there. But yesterday, all that changed, as every San Francisco Bay Area Burger King added a vegan burger to their menu.
For many people who do not give going to a fast food restaurant a second thought, being able to eat at Burger King might not seem like a big deal. Given the ubiquity of Burger Kings across America — likely at least one in every moderate-size American community — dining at Burger King isn’t a rarified event. In fact, for many, it is likely the very definition of mundane. Yet for Jennifer and I, being able to pull up to the drive-thru at Burger King and order an entirely plant-based meal was the realization of a dream, and the beginning of a future, that we prophesied would someday come to pass in All American Vegan, our cookbook.
That day is here.
Over the last several months, as Carl’s Jr., White Castle, Red Robin, Taco Bell, Shake Shack, Bareburger, and others have introduced plant-based versions of their menu, the beginning of the end of animal agriculture is on the horizon. With studies showing that most people care about the plight and welfare of animals, providing them to ability to express that concern by making it as simple as ordering the plant-based version of America’s most popular foods — foods that look the same, taste the same, and are as widely available as their animal-based counterparts — is innovation that holds the key to ending our nation’s appetite for foods that cause untold suffering and death of our fellow (non-human) Americans.
Thus, as we pulled into the drive-thru to order an iconic American fast food meal, when the voice came through the speaker: “Welcome to Burger King, can I take your order?” I felt a pang of shock and excitement at hearing something from my childhood that I had not heard in decades. And I said it: “Impossible Whopper, no mayo,” half expecting them to say that they had nothing for me there. I waited, but there was only silence, so I added fries and a drink. Again, I waited for the blow but was instead told to pull forward and pay at the window. And when I did, seconds later, there were our vegan Whoppers waiting for us.
Only three letters can adequately capture the excitement, dare I saw even bewilderment, this experience held for Jennifer and I, and the profound shift in American eating habits this truly remarkable experience foretells. We offer these three letters as a tip of the hat from a couple of old GenXers to the animal-loving Millennials and post-Millennials (Gen Z) who are the reason this seminal moment in American history has, at long last, come to pass: OMG (and thank you).
By the way, they were delicious.
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