More than 1 Bn served! Now pure vegetarian.
Sabarmati river flowing through Ahmedabad divides this vibrant city into the old and new Ahmedabad. While the old city on one side is predominantly Muslim, the new city on the other side of the river is dominated by the Hindu population. The culinary fare is also demarcated. The old city is the place to go for succulent kababs and other meat delicacies; the new city is strongly vegetarian, largely due to its religious beliefs.
During a recent trip to Ahmedabad, I found myself at a McDonalds. Waiting in line, I was approached by a staff asking me if I was interested in taking a tour of the kitchen. I was half-expecting a talk on cleanliness and sanitary conditions, but the emphasis was on something different. At each counter, we were explicitly shown how the vegetarian food is stored separately from the meat section, dedicated staff and even separate cooking counters for veg and non-veg food.
Mc Donalds is taking an interesting step to reassure their customers that veg and non-veg items are stored and prepared in separate areas.
This little exercise works at various levels.
The brain doesn’t like ambiguity, and often responds illogically when forced to make decisions based on little evidence. With a situation like this where food is prepared out of sight, our brain creates situations which match with our current beliefs, in this case – McD is a non-veg place, so its not wise eating there if I am a vegetarian. McDonalds, famous for its hamburgers, needs to appeal to the vegetarian eating population in India. With staunch religious beliefs to overcome, this kitchen tour is a small step to demonstrate physical proof and attract more vegetarians into its outlets.
Secondly, the certificate which is given after having seen the separation, builds commitment – the idea that McD respects its vegetarian eaters is further reinforced because it is congruent with their self image of no dharm-bhrasht (religious conflict). Although, printing the certificate in first person would have been much more persuasive.
What this adds up to is a comforting eating experience, free of any uncertainty for the vegetarian patrons. This will only spread to other vegetarians who are undecided of stepping into a McDonalds in new Ahmedabad.