BUSINESS

McDonald's Opens Vegetarian Restaurants In India

09/04/2012 11:49 EDT | Updated 09/04/2012 11:49 EDT
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Two Indian flags adorn a sign at a local McDonalds chain restaurant on Independence day in New Delhi on August 15, 2012. Indian Premier Manmohan Singh used his Independence Day speech to promise to improve conditions for foreign investment in the country after a sharp downturn in economic growth. Ratings agency Moody's last week scaled down its growth outlook for India, Asia's third largest economy to 5.5 percent in the fiscal year ending March 2013. AFP PHOTO/Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/GettyImages)

Hamburglar is not amused.

McDonald's is heading for greener pastures, opening its very first batch of vegetarian-only restaurants next year.

Making its burger-free beachhead in Amritsar and Katra, India, the fast food giant is looking to capitalize on droves of hungry pilgrims that pour into the region year-round. Katra, home to the popular Vaishno Devi hill shrine, will open its doors first, followed by Amritsar, according to The Telegraph.

The Golden Arches may share an unlikely spotlight with Amritsar's famed Golden Temple, but McDonald's has held down a strong presence in India since 1996 -- spinning the iconic Big Mac into the Maharaja Mac.

The Indian menu also features the carrot, pea and potato medley known as the McVeggie, as well as mashed potato patty called the McAloo Tikky.

Today, 271 of the chain's 30,000 locations are in India, a number the company is looking to ramp up sharply, according to the Financial Times.

The new restaurants represent the first time meat has been outright banished from the menu -- although the company has long catered to local tastes.

“A vegetarian store makes absolute sense in the places which are famous as pilgrimage sites,” Rajesh Kumar Maini, a spokesman for McDonald’s India, told the Times.

McDonald's has been evolving its menu in recent years, mindful of popular trends away from grilled and fried meats -- and bringing in more salads and veggie-based menu items.

The company plans to seriously bulk up its menu line-up for its all-green restaurants, Maini told the Financial Times.

“Since this is going to be an exclusive vegetarian restaurant, we will have to look at opening more products."

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