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Do Americans Need a Vegetarian McDonald's?

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Photo by Svadilfari via Flickr
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Last week we reported on a petition lead by L.A. resident Ari Solomon attempting to get In-N-Out to start offering a meat-free option aside from the grilled cheese, which seems like an afterthought to the vegan/vegetarian crowd.

Now comes word that Mc Donald's will be opening its first vegetarian-only outlet in Amristar, India by mid-2013, with plans for expansion coming shortly thereafter.

"The US chain has plans to open another vegetarian outlet near the Vaishno Devi cave shrine in northwestern Indian Kashmir -- a revered Hindu pilgrimage site that draws hundreds of thousands of worshippers year," reports the AFP. "McDonald's in India has a menu that is 50-percent vegetarian. Its McAloo Tikki burger -- which uses a spiced potato-based patty -- is the top seller, accounting for a quarter of total sales."

Quite frankly, the McAloo burger sounds like something we'd be curious about-- certaily more so than the Doritos tacos loco. And Trader Joe's makes a masala burger that isn't half bad, so it couldn't be too far of a stretch for American outlets to start carrying similar options.

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But would the idea be as profitable here in the U.S.? The development of such a menu in India is due to the fact that so many of it's inhabitants, especially in the sacred areas where these chains are opening, are either Hindu or Muslim. For Muslims, the consumption of pork is prohibited in the Koran, and for Hindus, who account for 80 percent of India's 1.2 billion population according to the AFP, consider the cow to be sacred.

"At the moment, India is still a very small market -- we just have 271 restaurants in India and across the world we have nearly 33,000," said Rajesh Kumar Main, a spokesman for McDonald's in northern India. "But when you look at the potential of the country, it is one of the top priority countries and we are laying the groundwork for capturing the market."

America is still very much a meat and potatoes market, but expanding the vegetarian options could be a benefit, considering how many people are beginning to participate in Meatless Mondays, 9-5 vegetarianism programs, and the like.

But the question remains, would you eat the McAloo if it came to your town? Or would you prefer a veggie burger that's not made by Ronald and his crew?