Alex Casey is vegetarian and gives you the only meatless fast food burger rank you will ever need.
At the beginning of the year, several centuries ago, I became a vegetarian. Kinda. As a coward with a commitment problem, I decided to enter into the Yes Man diet situation, where I would always say “yes” to eating vegetarian unless there was no other option left but to eat meat. It’s a very effective lifestyle choice which means I now basically never eat meat, except for when I found myself randomly at Federal Deli holding a chicken salad sandwich.
During this very light social experiment, I have been tasting how every vegetarian burger option in the country tastes. Black beans and quinoa puree from a well-meaning regional pub. Thick gold haloumi sheets, a license from nature to eat a whole block of cheese in good company. The fake meat burger is so rich and juicy that it causes me to get very close to, and I quote, “pooping in the pants” at their work.
But this isn’t a boutique veggie burger ranking – Your Fuel, Your Wisconsins, Your Velvet, Your Kills, Your Burgers, Your Betters. This is a fast food vegetarian * burger ranking. Which is crazy. The misfits. The literal rebels ™ on the menu are meat crazy. On the one hand, they make you feel like godly Mother Teresa on the drive-thru track. On the other hand, they might be a greenwashing scam to get the Big Clown to trample the rainforest in his big clown shoes.
On the other hand, opting for the meatless version isn’t the worst thing you can do. We all just do our best. Especially for those of us who have three hands.
8) Wendy’s Burger Salad
In the words of Jack Torrance: Wendy. Dear. Light of my life. All the salads and no patties make me a sad girl. For as low as $ 5.10, you get what you pay for here. But at what cost. It’s sad (lettuce lettuce), so sad (pale tomato), it’s a sad situation (radioactive guacamole) and increasingly absurd (sweet chili sauce ???). I just want to remind the jury, Your Honor, that this burger has been found guilty of three counts of not owning a patty.
“Who says salads have to be boring?” pleads with Wendy on her website, in the same desperation as David Brent asking if hunger should be depressing. This trivial attempt honestly feels like when I asked my mother for vegetarian lasagna for my birthday and instead of substituting the ground beef for something else, she completely eliminated the bolognese and only served a layer of pasta sheets and white sauce. Desgusten.
7) Burger King Salad Burger
Before we discuss the jury criticism, I want to publicly acknowledge the heritage of Burger King Salad Burger, which I understand to be the ONLY vegetarian fast food burger option available for the longest time in the country. So, compliments to these pioneers, the first to take non-meat eaters seriously and not just expect us to shyly pack up an empty cheeseburger full of chips and call it a night (though it’s delicious and tasty too).
BUT we have grown as a society and I think I speak for the rest of us when I say that we simply don’t have the emotional capacity to handle this many onions in 2020. It doesn’t make sense to serve fried onion rings AND giant raw onion chunks in the SAME burger . It’s a two-way onion, it’s a Tony Abbott fantasy and it’s a Shrek wedding vehicle. Don’t cry that BK salad burger days are over, but don’t laugh either because your breath will kill a medium sized bird.
6) Burger King Super King XL
I’m obsessed with the fake meat burger trend that constantly tries to macho one another, through thickness, size, or meat. American Muscle Burgerfuel is a great example of a fake beef jacked burger that doesn’t need to be as angry as the roid-rage or giant weight brand suggests. Truth be told, both fast food chains came out with fake meat patties that weren’t the size of a real bodybuilder’s butt cheek, that’s over for you bitches.
By the way, while we’re caught up in the competition swinging this weird machismo marketing penis, the Super King XL is just as busy as it gets. I understand it’s exciting that fake meat is close to simulacrum, but Burger King has flown too close to the sun here. Duplicating a fake meat patty only serves to highlight the flaws and amplify the odd, unnatural screech that appears on the patty’s drying edge. It’s fake Big Mac fake meat and that’s too much.
5) McVeggie McDonald
Mike Posner taking pills in Ibiza
Maybe you shouldn’t be able to get them everywhere, because these burgers taste like they contain an ancient curse. The patty shakes like a corn fritter, but then reveals itself to be essentially a post-mammogram croquette. It contains cheese (!), Cheerful corn chunks and green dots and carrots that made me feel nostalgic for The Old Days when coffee was black or white instead of latte or mocha on some trendy site.
Am I going to marry her? Not. Will I eat it again? Maybe.
4) KFC Veggie Burger
This complete props for a simple burger to start a public conversation about something many of us know in our most private and shameful hearts – that anything is basically all right if you put hash brown in it. There’s real subversive freedom to menu items like this one, the same family of food as a burger you can buy with layered donuts instead of bread, or a Mexican Tank salad that you can crush corn chips and that’s okay because it’s a salad. I appreciate the no-nonsense and delicious approach that makes a lot of sense with the broader KFC fantasy.
Extra for the gurus: I know I’ve remained “on the menu” until recently but if I can make any cheeky suggestions – get the supercharged sauce for this. You will not regret it.
3) Jnr Carl’s Vegetarian Burger
Honestly, I didn’t see this coming either. I have very low expectations for Carl’s Jr on the meat-free market, given that they are mostly known for their beef burgers that fold quadruple and have women wriggling around in frothy cars in their underwear. But after trying their veggie burger, I was so stunned and impressed that I had to physically refrain from wearing the American flag bikini and climbing onto the hood of our Mazda Demio.
This burger is crazy, delicious, and crazy good. For God’s sake, it has smoky tomato sauce in it. Crispy fried onion straw! Pickles! Aioli! Cheese! Lettuce! Tomato, potato and kūmara patty! Full tribute to Carlton and the team who really give non-meat eaters texture and fun to work with, but this simply shouldn’t be on the “snack” part of the menu as I estimate it weighs around three pounds. It’s a value.
2) Burger King Rebel Whopper
It’s clear The Whopper is a genre classic and Burger King’s plant-based alternative seems to be fooling many Kiwi punters on television. But we have to be honest here, you can still tell the difference. Apart from the annoyance of pickles, aioli, tomatoes – and cheese if you like – a patty is still not enough. Tear off a little on its own and you’ll still feel an unnaturally springy feeling, a bit lablike taste.
All that said, it’s still a delicious bloody, bloody burger and one that will happily get anyone through a hangover and / or roadie with no problems at all. What holds this from the top spot for me is that I feel like there are plenty of places to hide in the Whopper format, and you could probably just put a patty made of mouse droppings in there and still taste pretty good. What these reviewers love is confidence and simplicity, embodied by the number one burger….
1) Burger King Rebel Chook
With just four no-frills elements – grated lettuce, tangy lemon mayonnaise, fake patty chook and classic longbread, there are no bells, whistles, or masculinity to be found with Rebel Chook. Chicken is easier to fake, considering that chicken nuggets are basically made of knuckles and sawdust, which gives this meat alternative a huge advantage. BK is so confident in his fake chicken that you can also buy it in tender, which is very meaningful. I haven’t seen fake rissole beef on the menu yet, that is.
What else is there to love? Another close contact pointed out to me recently that this is the “perfect driving burger.” And, as we all know, food consumed in cars, airports, and movies doesn’t count, so that’s another sign in its favor. Fake chicken can get a little dry, but Rebel Chook anticipates this with a whip of zesty mayo and crunchy lettuce. Mark my word – the perfect Rebel Chook and the official future is here. You don’t need real meat for fun when you can get this clawless rebel. No further questions.
* Many of them are not technically vegetarian, but I’m not really either
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