McDonald's Is Skipping the Meat—and Turning to Tofu

A soy-based version of McNuggets debuts in Japan this week.

(Photo: Courtesy McDonald's Japan)

Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

While McDonald’s locations in China are being forced to go largely vegetarian in light of an expired meat scandal, locations of the Golden Arches across the East China Sea are taking voluntary steps toward a post-meat future: Starting Wednesday, a tofu-based version of McNuggets will be available at Japanese McDonald’s.

Tofu Shinjo Nuggets strongly resemble the bits of breaded chicken the chain is both famous and infamous for—but they’re composed of tofu, onion, carrots, and minced fish. The name “Shinjo” refers to a type of Japanese fried fish cake. The dish contains fewer calories than traditional Chicken McNuggets and is served with a ginger dipping sauce—forget the barbecue or ketchup.

A McDonald’s spokesperson tells the Wall Street Journal that the tofu dish was in the works since long before news of this latest meat scandal broke in China. Still, McDonald’s Japan did have a relationship with Husi Food, the meat processor that’s charged with  extending the shelf life of expired products by a whole year. Japanese locations cut their ties with the processor after details about the so-called stale meat came to light.

Launching the new item the same week that McDonald’s in Beijing and Shanghai have been forced to move their menus in similar directions may have happened by chance, but it’s interesting to live in a world, albeit briefly, where the future of the fast-food chain appears to be pescatarian. 

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