A self-described vegan man is suing fast food chain Burger King for allegedly cooking their Impossible Whoppers, the plant-based burger popular among vegetarians and vegans, on “contaminated” grills, according to Reuters. Rather than cooking the burgers on their own grill, the restaurants allegedly cook them next to their traditional meat burgers, therefore allowing the plant-based burgers to soak in meat juices.
The man, named Philip Williams, claimed in a class action lawsuit filed in Miami, Florida, that he bought the Impossible Whopper at a drive-thru in Atlanta, Georgia, but it was “coated in meat by-products.”
The man claimed that he would not have purchased the burger had he known they were all cooked on the same grill.
Williams is asking for $5 million in damages for “all U.S. purchasers of the Impossible Whopper,” Reuters reports, as well as a warning to future customers that the plant-based burgers and the meat burgers are cooked on the same grill.
The lawsuit also alleges that other vegan customers have complained online about this method of cooking the Impossible Whoppers, per CNN.
Burger King has not yet commented on the lawsuit.
On Twitter, the issue has stirred up a controversy among other vegan customers. While some feel that it is simple enough to provide an entirely vegan option in fast food restaurants, others found Williams’ complaint to be an overreaction.
“I too want to be able to go through the drive thru and get a burger and fries. Why is it such an offense to have those options available for people with dietary restrictions?” one user asked on Twitter.
“Veganism isn’t an allergy to meat and dairy. If microunits of beef fat end up in my veggie burger, I’ll live,” another person said in a Twitter post. “I’m very happy that companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger are making great vegan products in fast food chains.”
A man is suing Burger King because the meatless Impossible Whopper is cooked on the same grill as meat products, the lawsuit alleges. https://t.co/pd3tlvlCCy— CNN (@CNN) November 19, 2019
That person also added that it is “not feasible” to have separate veggie grills due to the overwhelming demand for meat burgers.
Another user pointed out on Twitter that the Impossible Whopper is still beneficial in the long run because many meat-lovers and vegans alike choose the burger over factory farm meat.
Dana Worth, head of sales at Impossible Foods, the company who partnered with Burger King to develop the Impossible Whopper, did note in a recent interview that the plant-based meat is not solely designed for vegans and vegetarians. Rather, it is also for meat eaters who wish to cut back on consuming animal protein, per Reuters.
In addition, as many have pointed out, Burger King does note on their website that the “100 percent Whopper, zero percent beef” patty can be cooked in a microwave, rather than a broiler, at the request of any customer. Williams’ lawyer did not comment on this statement.
Burger King debuted the Impossible Whopper in August, and since then a number of other fast food chains have developed competitive plant-based options, including McDonald’s and KFC.