Often when activists encourage a test of a vegan item at a fast food or quick-service restaurant chain, the test seems successful to us, as the item quickly sells out, and we read comments about how great it tastes. But then many activists are puzzled by why the item isn't kept on the menu. This excerpt from Fortune magazine is interesting: In 1990, Fortune covered the proliferation of the McDonald's menu, noting that the restaurant offered 33 items, not counting size permutations. That was up 25% from 1980. Today the menu has 121 items, a 75% increase from 2004, according to industry consultant Aaron Allen. Overall, McDonald's brings in about $20,000 in sales per offering, per restaurant, on average. Compare that with high-end burger joint Shake Shack. Each of its 44 menu items average about $66,000 in sales per store — more than three times the average for McDonald's," Allen says.

So, though a vegan item may be successful to us, the restaurant still has to look at how the item is going to fit into overall sales. They also consider whether the vegetarian item will have to replace another item to keep the menu offerings manageable. On the other hand, the restaurant may want to keep testing veggie items in order to obtain publicity or explore ideas for the future, even if it won't be added to the menu immediately. The same is true when making decisions in nonprofits. Though members may all have good ideas for projects, even the largest nonprofits turn down doing valuable work, since they know it's impossible to handle all programs, even if the idea is good. Spreading yourself too thin usually is not successful, even if you are vegan. However, circumstances can change, so keep working for change in a positive way, approaching venues that may be the most appropriate. For example, if you receive responses to ingredient inquiries sent to chains, please share them with us.

For updates on veggie items being offered at restaurant chains, visit

To vote for your favorite restaurant chain, visit

For information on vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the USA and Canada, see

Debra Wasserman & Charles Stahler
Coordinators of The Vegetarian Resource Group