You probably heard about that one particular Whopper and the case that pretty much shook the vegan movement back in November 2019. To put things bluntly, one vegan customer decided to sue the large chain, mainly because the meat-free products were not cooked on a different surface and were in contact with the grills where meat burgers were prepared.
If you know a couple of things about what it means to be vegan, you can understand why this was a critical case for such people. It was so big that more than just one professional business attorney had to fight for the case’s dismissal – which happened around one and a half years later!
Let’s take a closer look at what vegan clients/people should learn from this particular case.
The Initial Claim
As mentioned before, one particular client didn’t want to pay the extra money – yes, it came with a special price – for a meat-free product prepared on a meat-full grill, so to say.
The client was outraged because the multinational chain didn’t detail the cooking procedure of the meat-free product. In commercials, it was described as having 0% beef and aimed at those looking for a meat-free product, a non-broiler method of preparation. Naturally, it was available on request only.
In some clap back, the entity who co-created the product stated that the product was not designed exclusively for vegetarians and vegans – but for those regular people that wanted to consume less protein of animal origin!
The Main Issues
So far, we have learned that the troublesome product was not designed as a vegan product and shared the same cooking procedure as the other restaurant products.
Moreover, the co-creator also stated that if people want a full vegan experience from their whopped, they can serve as clerks to microwave it instead.
For many, this issue was caused by vague marketing and the somewhat increased expectation of vegan people. However, their expectations were there for a good reason – the Whopper was marketed as meat-free, which made them believe that everything about it was free of meat.
How did this end? Well, a federal judge eventually dismissed the lawsuit. It was deemed that it didn’t deceive vegetarian/vegan customers in any way – after all, they didn’t mention anything regarding the cooking process.
On top of that, the judge also talked about how the presumed victim didn’t request a unique way of cooking the whopper nor asked for details regarding the procedure. Ultimately, the best argument was that, while the restaurant promised a meat-free product, it’s cooking on a surface free of meat was not.
The Bottom Line
In the end, we can admit that if some aspects were different, the movement in question might have won this lawsuit. Moreover, this lawsuit also showed us that things like this are indeed taken seriously!
However, for someone to sue and win a multinational chain like the one in question, they need clear and explicit evidence of their wrongdoings or failed advertising. That was not the case in this situation. If Burger King aimed the product mainly at vegans/vegetarians, we may consider its lack of details/explanation a bit troublesome.