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Fast food restaurants get a bad rap, especially
in a food culture that elevates all things organic and natural. It’s not surprising, as these restaurants
serve unhealthy items, tend to pay low wages, and have had questionable environmental practices
in the past. But believe it or not, there are good things
about these chains you may not have realized. Here are some facts that might change the
way you look at fast food restaurants. Vegetarian options Standard fast food restaurants actually have
some pretty good vegetarian options — beyond greasy fries. Burger King has a Veggie Whopper on its so-called
secret menu. McDonald’s has all-day breakfast now, so you
can order an Egg McMuffin — hold the Canadian bacon — or hotcakes any time of day. Subway has the Veggie Delight. And Taco Bell, known for being among the most
vegetarian-friendly fast food restaurants out there, has an entire menu certified by
the American Vegetarian Association. Community centers Many fast food restaurants are also hubs of
community activity. Elderly people often go in the morning to
enjoy a cup of coffee and socialize. Bible study groups can spend several hours
spread over a few tables discussing theology. People will often hop over to Panera or Starbucks
when internet at home isn’t working. And if you need to drop in and charge your
phone or use the wifi? You can do both at many locations without
fear of being asked to leave if you don’t order something, or only order something small. Healthier initiatives Surprisingly, fast food restaurants are attentive
to food trends. In an age where customers want food that’s
healthy, you can attribute it to corporations catering to consumer demand. Cindy Goody, PhD, RDN, senior director of
ingredients and nutrition for McDonald’s, said, “Today’s consumers are increasingly interested
in how their food is produced. That’s why our U.S. restaurants have committed
to make changes to our menu […] and make the food people truly love to eat at McDonald’s
even better.” McDonald’s is far from alone in working to
improve their nutritional reputation. Subway has a Fresh Fit menu. Taco Bell is reducing their sodium content
and planning to ditch extra large sodas. Wendy’s has an app you can download to help
make healthier choices when ordering. These don’t necessarily make fast food restaurants
healthy, but they do make them healthier. Charity Believe it or not, the majority of fast food
restaurants give to charity, some quite generously. There’s the Burger King McLamore Foundation,
which is a non-profit that gives scholarships and other monies to benefit education. Taco Bell has a similar foundation. Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas was adopted, so
it’s not surprising that the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption seeks to help children get adopted
into loving families. Panera operates non-profit community cafes
that operate on a pay-what-you-can scale, raising awareness about hunger insecurity. If you’ve ever been inside of a McDonald’s,
you’ve seen the change bins for Ronald McDonald House. You can even go to the Subway website to make
a request for donations for a local charity or event. Food access gaps Fast food restaurants are often the scapegoat
in discussions about obesity, but the reality is that in some places, they can be vital,
making food available in areas of greatest need. In the American Planning Association magazine,
planner Bobby Boone noted, “Like it or not, fast food plays an important
role in our food ecosystem. In many communities, fast-food options fill
the gap left by grocery and full-service restaurant tenants.” So how can they help bring other food in? By showing their success. According to Boone, “Once the fast-food operator is successful,
other food offerings, including grocery and full-service restaurants, may follow.” Given that fast food restaurants are diversifying
their menus to include more healthy offerings as well, these establishments may one day
shake off that scapegoat status. Thanks for watching! Click the Mashed icon to subscribe to our
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