US fast food giant McDonald’s, famed for its beef-based Big Mac burgers, said on Sept. 4 it will open its first ever vegetarian-only restaurant in the world in India next year.
The world’s second-biggest restaurant chain after Subway already tailors its menus to suit local tastes — which in India means no beef to avoid offending Hindus and no pork to cater to Muslim requirements.
It will open its first vegetarian outlet in the middle of next year near the Golden Temple in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar in northern India, where religious authorities forbid consumption of meat at the shrine.
After the opening in Amritsar, the US chain plans to launch another vegetarian outlet at Katra near the Vaishno Devi cave shrine in Indian Kashmir — a revered Hindu pilgrimage site that draws hundreds of thousands of worshippers a year.
McDonald’s in India already has a menu that is 50 percent vegetarian. The chain serves half a million customers a day in India, out of 50 million people it serves daily in over 100 countries.
Hindus, who account for 80 percent of India’s population, regard cows as sacred. For Muslims, the consumption of pork is prohibited in the Koran.
But growing consumption of food high in fat is spurring concern that India is importing the Western disease of obesity, creating a ticking public health timebomb.