A Big Mac may be the international sign for McDonald’s, but not in India. The fast-food giant will open its very first all-vegetarian location in the South-Asian country next year, as part of a move to break through to a market that is 20 to 42% meat-free. With McAloo Tikki potato burgers leading the pack, McDonald’s is in for a real transition as it tries to appeal to both a Hindu population, which considers cows sacred, and the Muslim community that doesn’t eat pork. The first location, in true McDonald’s fashion, will be next door to a bustling tourist site – the Golden Temple in Amritsar, northern India.
McDonald’s has had no issue with adapting its menu for certain diners before. French locations offer McBaguettes and croissants, and customers in China can enjoy cups of fresh corn or red bean sundaes. While it is the largest food chain in the world, McDonald’s has a tiny presence in the enormous country of India, with only 271 restaurants. Many of these existing locations already have menus that feature vegetarian fare. The McAloo Tikki burger is made with a spicy fried potato patty, while the Maharaja Mac substitutes the famous beef burger with chicken.
The company also plans to open a vegetarian location near the Vaishno Devi cave shrine in Kashmir, a Hindu pilgrimage site that attracts thousands of visitors a year. Let’s hope they come hungry.