Vegan customer sues Burger King for grilling Impossible Whoppers on same surface as beef

Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

Plant-based burgers and meats from fast food restaurants come with an asterisk. Yes, they’re not made from any animal products, but they are typically cooked with the same tools on the same equipment as their non-vegan counterparts. Whether or not that information is clear enough to customers is at the heart of a new lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Florida yesterday. Per Reuters, the plaintiff who bought an Impossible Whopper from an Atlanta drive-thru says he would not have paid a premium for it had he known it was “coated in meat by-products.”

Signs and website text advertising the Impossible Whopper present it as “100% Whopper, 0% Beef.” The suit seeks an injunction requiring Burger King to more obviously disclose that the Impossible burgers are cooked on the same surfaces as beef burgers and seeks damages for all American customers who have bought an Impossible Whopper since it debuted in August.

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Burger King’s website does contain a footnote: “For guests looking for a meat-free option, a non-broiler method of preparation is available upon request.” Presumably, strict vegans could request to have their Impossible Whoppers microwaved—if they were not only aware that the burgers normally are cooked alongside beef and if they realized there was an alternative cooking option.

Burger King declined to comment to news outlets on pending litigation, but Impossible Foods Inc tells Reuters it didn’t design the Impossible Whopper for vegans or vegetarians, but instead for customers who are simply looking to eat less meat in their diets. Data bears that out; statistics compiled by market research firm NPD Group showed 95% of customers who purchased a meatless burger had also purchased a beef burger within the past year.

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Kate Bernot

Kate Bernot is managing editor at The Takeout and a certified beer judge.