While a "veggie" burger is not the end-all-be-all of vegetarian fast food cuisine, it is certainly a nice option to have. It is perplexing, therefore, that few chains offer any veg-head friendly patties, considering the ever expansive market of vegan and vegetarian eaters. The same complaint goes for sit-down chains. The only one that comes to mind that offers a vegetarian patty is Chili's with their black bean patty. Some restaurants have cop-out vegetarian options such as Five Guys with their Veggie Sandwich, which simply omits the patty altogether, or In-N-Out's secret menu "grilled cheese" which is just as much of a let down as it sounds like.
The only two widely accessible fast-food chains that offer any sort of vegetable-based (or vegetable and grain mix) patty seem to be Burger King and Subway. But if we are being honest, the only true contender would be Burger King. My experience with Subway's Veggie Patty was just okay. When I pointed to the brown, wrinkly rectangle, the Subway guy looked at me and asked "Are you sure?" He then scratched his head explaining that no one had ever ordered a Veggie Patty for as long as he'd worked there, and he wasn't even sure of how long to heat it in their toaster oven. He had to ask the manager. Despite its unpopularity, the patty was not bad. It was mushy, but its flavor was decent and gave me falafel vibes. I was not a fan of the killer stomach ache it gave me later on that day. So, my advice to others would be order at your own risk.
Perhaps part of the problem is that Subway seems to have taken on the task of producing their own veggie patties. Unlike the sandwich chain, Burger King humbly outsourced their veggie burger duties to MorningStar Farms. All BK does is throw the patty down alongside it's meaty counterparts to get that same charbroiled flavor. And this seems to work well. Burger King's veggie burger was surprisingly tasty. The texture on the inside was what you would expect (sort of mushy), but the patty itself was firm enough on the outside to withstand the burger experience. My biggest question to all major chains out there: McDonald's, Wendy's, Hardee's/Carl's Jr., I'm looking at you. Why haven't you followed Burger King's lead?
I can only assume that maybe MorningStar and Burger King have some sort of blood-pact that forbids the veggie burger brand from doing business with anyone else. Even so, there has to be some other veggie competitor out there willing to do a deal with a major fast-food chain. And it shouldn't be a matter of waiting to see if the vegetarian and vegan trend will die out. They shouldn't wait for the "right time" or the 'right brand" to come along, considering Burger King has been making a profit off of veggie burgers since 2002. For international fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, it is simply a matter of expanding existing products into those chains in the US. Franchises in countries such as the UK, Germany, and India already boast an expansive vegetarian menu with items such as the Vegetable Deluxe, a chickpea patty seasoned with cumin and coriander. I find it difficult to see why major chains such as McDonalds would be so hesitant to include veggie burgers in chains all across the country, because all I can picture is an America that would warmly welcome more vegetarian (and vegan!) options in the fast-food scene.
I'm Lisa Cecilia Garcia. I'm a freelance writer specializing in food and lifestyle but have experience in poetry, creative writing, and everything in between. I'm a recent college graduate residing in Valdosta, GA. I love sketching, running, and obviously cooking and eating. When I'm older, I plan to run away to the mountains.