Today is the day that KFC launch their vegan chicken burger nationwide. This, and whether vegans choose to eat it has caused controversy in the vegan Facebook groups I’m in, and it got me thinking about the rationale behind it.

There are two distinct opinions when it comes to a company like KFC having a vegan option.

  1. This is something we should support, can’t wait to try it, exciting times for vegans

Or

  1. I’ll never eat out of there, their welfare standards are atrocious, this is something we should boycott.

I can understand why people do have issues eating out of a place like KFC. KFC is a business built almost entirely on slaughtering chickens. There definitely have been horror stories link over their treatment of animals and I think it is clear that most vegans wish places like KFC didn’t exist.

However, the more vegan food there is out there easily available, the more people (mostly non vegans) will try it. In turn, surely this will ultimately lead to fewer animals being killed, supply and demand generally rules in these circumstances. 

I find the argument against KFC similar to the argument against the Yulin Dog Festival. Most non vegans are against this, they think the treatment and eating of the dogs is awful, and will often share stories and videos relating to this on social media. At the same time they are sharing pictures of their food, burgers, pizzas, covered with animal products, and not seeing the link (or deliberately ignoring it). Cognitive Bias at it’s finest. 

I find vegans who make the argument against KFC may also be suffering from an element of this cognitive bias. Most people (at least in the UK and who I know) shop at locations which are not (and nowhere close to being) fully vegan. I wonder what percentage of the products in shops like Tesco, Asda, even restaurants like Greggs, contain animal products. The Greggs Vegan Sausage roll launched this time last year, and although there was some of the “not buying it” response, it appears to be less vehement KFC, certainly from what I have personally witnessed online. In my opinion, Greggs, KFC, Tesco, there is no real difference. 

Now, that is to say, if there was a fully vegan supermarket nearby, I would shop at it. There aren’t anywhere near where I live, as far as I know there are only a couple in the UK. And while I of course don’t agree with the vast majority of the options in KFC, I can’t help but feel if the vegan burger is popular (the trial was incredibly popular and sold out in 4 days), then they will put more vegan options, and less meat on the menu. 

This is of course ignoring the entire health side of the argument. Ultra processed vegan food is little better than ultra processed non vegan food, and should be consumed in moderation. However there are a lot of people out there who are not interested in health, and if given the choice I would far rather they consumed a vegan version of their favourite junk food. 

I also think the militant vegan stereotype is rampant among non vegans, and taking such a stance doesn’t help with that stereotype. For me, every step in the right direction is still movement we should be proud of, when I first went vegan 4 years ago I could never have imagined all the options we have today, so something is happening.

Personally, I will be trying the KFC burger. I want to support vegan options, and to be quite frank I’m curious as to how it tastes. Keeping it in line with my goals for 2020 and January, I will have it with a large salad as my main meal. If you don’t want to try it, I can understand, but be aware of the bias when shopping from large supermarkets/eating out at mainly omnivore restaurants. 

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