The Reason A Vegan Tried To Sue Burger King

On November 19, 2019, CNN reported that a man had slapped Burger King with a lawsuit, alleging that he "suffered monetary damages in the amount that he paid to purchase" under false pretenses. His position was that the Impossible Whopper, the plant-based burger designed in collaboration between Burger King and Impossible Foods, could not be classified as vegan because it was cooked on the same grill as Burger King's beef patties. The plaintiff felt that this tainted his meal, and several other customers joined the lawsuit.

The Burger King lawsuit ended in July 2020, with Reuters declaring, "Burger King wins dismissal of vegans' lawsuit over Impossible Whopper." The decision hinged on the fact that the Impossible Whopper was promoted as a plant-based burger. As noted by CNN, Burger King's website billed it as "100 percent Whopper, 0 percent Beef," not as a vegan burger. Some vegans may have misinterpreted the wording to mean that they were consuming a vegan burger, but that didn't place any onus on Burger King to actually produce one. As the judge found, "Burger King promised a non-meat patty and delivered." It's also worth noting that according to the court, the plaintiffs never asked how the burgers were prepared and didn't request special preparation to meet their dietary needs. Apparently, they actually had the option to request a "non-broiler method" to ensure that their burger is "meat-free."

Impossibly whopped

Impossible Foods agreed with the court's assessment. stating that the Impossible Whopper was geared toward meat-eaters who are looking to consume less animal protein, not vegans or vegetarians. Burger King also brought its social media snark to its response, as quoted in Delish: "[The plaintiff] assumed that an Impossible Whopper would satisfy his own particularly strict form of veganism... solely because he asked a Burger King restaurant employee to 'hold the mayo.'" 

While such reasoning helped with the short-term problem of the lawsuit, it could seem equally short-sighted to deploy it as a long-term strategy. Unless you're making a stand like Arby's, it might seem silly to not comply with the demand for burgers untouched by meat. Even though, as The Guardian writes, many vegans suspect that companies will continue to sell dead animals as well as serve vegans, such concerns may indicate that to ignore the growing non-carnivorous demographic is a bad plan.