Tuesday, September 18, 2012

All-veg McDonald's eyes India's holy sites

Fast-food giant is opening its first-ever, all-vegetarian restaurants in India, but could stoke a religious backlash.

Move over greasy burgers, the world's most recognisable fast food chain is about to go vegetarian.

McDonald's has announced plans to open its first-ever, all-vegetarian restaurants in India - a country of 1.2 billion people - where cows are sacred to majority Hindus, and swine are considered unclean by minority Muslims.

The mega-chain - known for its "100 per cent pure beef" - has faced significant culinary obstacles in India, as 80 per cent of the population does not consume the restaurant's main staple.

India also boasts a Muslim population of about 150 million, meaning pork is culled from the menu.

Hence the focus on all-vegetarian outlets. McDonald's menu is already 50 per cent vegetarian in India, and the chain has made a significant effort to adapt to local tastes. On offer are items such as the McAloo Tikki burger, Pizza McPuff and Maharaja Mac - made with a chicken fillet.

"We have always been cognizant of the religion-based and other sensitivities of our customers," company spokesman Rajesh Kumar Maini told Al Jazeera. "We believe this endeavour of ours will also be well accepted." 

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