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A Vegan Is Suing Burger King Over the Way They Cook Impossible Whoppers

Kayla Blanton
Photo credit: Michael Thomas - Getty Images

From Prevention

  • A vegan man is reportedly suing Burger King because he claims the Impossible Whopper is cooked on the same grill as traditional beef patties.
  • A class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of Phillip Williams on Monday, Nov. 18 in the Southern District of Florida.
  • The lawsuit has spurred mixed responses among vegans and vegetarians on Twitter.

Earlier this year, Burger King launched the Impossible Whopper, and vegans and vegetarians everywhere celebrated another meatless fast food option. Except for one vegan, who is reportedly suing the burger chain because he claims the new menu item is cooked on the same grill as traditional beef patties.

The class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of Phillip Williams on Monday, Nov. 18 in the Southern District of Florida. It alleges that the Impossible Whopper is falsely advertised because it’s contaminated by the meat it’s cooked alongside, which, according to him, would exclude it from the vegan and vegetarian food categories all together. (So far, Burger King has declined to make a public comment.)

This isn’t the first time the sandwich was met with scrutiny from vegans. In its as-it-comes form, the sandwich is topped with mayonnaise, which contains egg. A person following a traditional vegan diet would typically avoid all animal byproducts including eggs and dairy.

Still, the fast food chain seems to have prepared for the cooking method accusation, because there’s a related disclaimer on its official website. Under the plant-based burger’s description as “100% Whopper, 0% Beef,” a disclaimer reads, “For guests looking for a meat-free option, a non-broiler method of preparation is available upon request.” Williams’ suit claims that if he would have known how the patty was cooked, he wouldn’t have purchased it.

Fellow vegans and vegetarians have mixed feelings about the lawsuit. Many of them (on Twitter, at least) are concerned that Williams’ actions will give all non-meat eaters a bad reputation and taint the progress that’s been made.

“Of course one vegetarian has to go and make us all look bad by suing Over the #ImpossibleWhopper being cooked on the same grill,” one user tweeted. “Of course it is. Unless you go to a 100% veg restaurant your food will be cooked with meat. 99% of vegetarians know this.”

“As a vegan of 12 years, I accept that if I buy a vegan food item from a non-vegan establishment that there will be cross contamination,” another user wrote.

Others pointed out that the burger was never advertised as vegan or vegetarian. It’s referred to as meatless, not meat-free. “How could y’all not expect those impossible burgers to be cooked on the same grill as the meat burgers,” one person tweeted. “That’s exactly why they didn’t advertise it as vegetarian.”

Some people sided with Williams, noting the threat of allergens in cross-contamination. “I can understand that there are individuals out there who adhere to a vegan lifestyle because of moral and ethical concerns about the treatment of animals, but there are also those who are allergic and can’t process meat,” one user wrote. “Wake up, BK. This is pathetic.”

Despite the ongoing diet debates, the Impossible Whopper has been a huge win for the franchise, and, according to CNN Business, has contributed to its most successful quarter in four years.

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