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Lisbon – How far is New Zealand behind Portugal in terms of offering more non-meat food options?

A Burger King branch in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon has announced that it will go 100 percent vegan for a month.

The fast food chain opened the plant-based pop-up at its Rua de Belém branch on November 4. It’s set to only serve vegan food until early December.

The restaurant has changed its menu, decor, and kitchen to accommodate the change. It doesn’t hold any meat products at all.

New Zealand and Portugal are pretty similar countries. Portugal has big Spain on their doorstep like New Zealand is close to bigger Australia.

If Kiwis lived in New Zealand instead of Portugal, they would live one year longer, they would likely to be 48.1 percent more obese and make 27.8 percent more money.

New Zealanders would be 21.6 percent more likely to have internet access, spend 30.6 percent more on education and they would have 2600km more coastline.

Burger King Spain and Portugal head office says they eliminated all animal products from their kitchen to ensure food safety.

The cheese and bacon are vegan, the desserts, the mayonnaise, and even the restaurant materials, such as cups, wipes, packaging, and bags, were carefully selected.

Customers are able to choose from a range of plant-based versions of the chain’s best-selling menu items. These include the Whopper and Chicken Nuggets. The foods were made with meat alternatives from The Vegetarian Butcher.

Portugal has seen a sharp rise in popularity of meat-free food in recent years. In 2017, it became the first country to make it illegal for public buildings like schools, universities, hospitals and prisons to not offer a plant-based option.

The move came after 15,000 people signed a petition urging the government to do so. The same year, there was a 400 percent rise in people identifying as vegetarian. A few years ago, the idea of Burger King catering so well to vegans may have seemed unfathomable.

In recent months, however, the chain has seen a rapid growth in its plant-based options. Burger King has attributed this to consumer preferences and plans to reduce its carbon footprint.

The all-vegan Burger King in Portugal follows in the footsteps of similar branches. This includes London and Bristol in the UK, and Tel Aviv in Israel.

In January this year, Burger King UK pledged that it would turn 50 percent of its menu meat-free by 2030.

Animal agriculture is a huge contributor to the climate crisis. It causes at least 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. It is also responsible for biodiversity loss and deforestation.