As a healthy eater, and as a Vegan, I have been a longtime supporter of McDonald’s long-suffering effort to offer a better, and healthier menu, at an affordable price, for their millions of daily customers.

Here’s my review of their new “McVeggie” sandwich — published on January 2, 1999:

The McDonalds McVeggie burger can be found in limited availability. In New York City, there are three or four McDonalds in Manhattan that offer the McVeggie. In locations that offer the McVeggie, you’ll find signs outside and large banners inside touting the McVeggie. There’s even a “McVeggie Extra Value Meal” that offers a large drink and large fries with the sandwich! The full-color McVeggie Extra Value Meal sign was professionally made and looked like all the other food images hanging behind the cashiers. The McVeggie is certainly not a scribbled-on after-thought and it appears to be a full member of the McDonalds family in these limited locations.

I’m sorry to report the McVeggie never took off and never gained ground, all because McDonald’s never committed to taking that first and final step of putting the burger in every store — and that’s a pretty hard lesson because McDonald’s are currently, and rightly, terrified of Subway.

Subway is the future of franchise sandwiches because that brand focuses on healthy eating while still creating magnificent varieties of tastes.  There isn’t much at McDonald’s that isn’t built to kill you slowly from the inside out at the lowest possible price.

The ubiquitous Big Mac is still a massive pounding on our arteries, weighing in today at 550 calories, 29 grams of fat and 970 mg of salt.

Yet, the horrible Big Mac numbers have nothing on the new, “healthy” McDonald’s crispy chicken and bacon McWrap.  620 calories, 31 grams of fat and 1490 mg of salt.

If the wilted lettuce doesn’t kill you, the salt surely will!

The facts of these eating disconnects — a salad McWrap is worse for your body than a Big Mac; a McVeggie burger isn’t popular enough to get widespread distribution even though McDonald’s claims to want healthier menu options — has always made the right eaters largely concerned with ever trusting anything under the Golden Arches.

I have tried to support these healthier efforts because McDonald’s can make a mighty change in the way we eat just by offering better and wider menu choices.  To make a large leap in our overall health as a nation, we need big corporations like McDonald’s to step forward and make unsettling, but important, changes.

Modifying your french fries a bit is not near enough of a proper effort.

McDonald’s plans to spend $35 million dollars to woo the healthy adult eater back into their stores by promoting fresh fruit and vegetables:

Although it has added salads, fruits and cut raw vegetables to its menu in recent years, the chain has experienced flat sales across much of its business in the United States and Europe, and forecast earlier this summer that little would alter the company’s financial picture anytime soon. The millennial generation, a key demographic that is being wooed by fast-casual restaurants like Panera Bread and Chipotle, in particular has not become a loyal patron of McDonald’s.

Again, this effort from McDonald’s feels half-hearted and destined to fail. There is no real corporate push to make their entire menu healthier, and what McDonald’s fails to realize is that we, the Healthy Eaters, do not just want fruits and vegetables in a restaurant. We can get that on any street corner — especially in New York City — and the food will be cheaper and taste fresher. What we want is a healthy, hot, meal that is meatless and delicious and that isn’t created to kill us.

We go out to eat to get what is not easily preparable at home — and until McDonald’s realizes that fact — they will never win over the real healthy eater with middling menu additions, and Subway will continue to rule the healthier niches.

McDonald’s need a regime change of their entire menu, and once that happens, the dividends will begin to pay off in grateful, longer living, customers dedicated to maintaining a proper “fast food” diet that doesn’t shove them into an early grave.


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