Due to heavy local demand, McDonald's is scheduled to open a vegetarian-only restaurant near the Golden Temple in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar in northern India sometime in the middle of next year.
McDonald’s, one of the world’s largest fast-food chains, is set to compete against Subway, a company that has catered to the locals’ needs of no meat and just vegetarian options. The home of the Big Mac will open its only vegetarian-only restaurants in the world in India.
Rajesh Kumar Maini, a spokesperson for the chain in northern India, told Agence-France Presse that McDonald’s will cater to Hindus, who are vegetarians, and Muslims, who don’t eat pork. He also stated India is one of the top priority countries and McDonald’s is trying to capture the market of 1.2 billion people. Presently there are 271 locations in India out of 30,000 across the globe.
Scheduled to open mid-next year, the first two chains will be established in India’s Amritsar and Katra. It will later open its doors near the Vaishno Devi cave shrine in northwestern Indian Kashmir.
“It will be the first time we have opened a vegetarian restaurant," Maini told the news agency in an interview. "There is a big opportunity for vegetarian restaurants (in India) as many Indians are vegetarian.”
It is unclear what McDonald’s will serve at its vegetarian outlets, but in different parts of India, it already has 50-percent vegetarian on its menus. One of its bestselling items is the McAloo Tikki burger, a spiced potato-based patty. This menu item accounts for about a quarter of total sales in India.
For years, McDonald’s has adapted to the local markets and catered to the needs of residents. In Hong Kong, the Shogun burger is popular, a pork patty smothered in teriyaki sauce and cabbage. In the Middle East, McDonald’s replaces its beef patties in the Big Mac with chicken. Over in Italy, instead of hamburger buns, the burgers are served on ciabatta rolls.
Over the past decade, in part to heavy criticism from the general public, McDonald’s has attempted to serve healthier items at many of its restaurants, such as salads, wraps and other options that contain less fat, sugar and salt.
Will McDonald’s open up such restaurants in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom or elsewhere? There has been no sign of such a move, but if there is a market, McDonald’s is likely to try to get its foot in the door.