Vegetarian at the Bell

Taco Bell

Many of you may recall a couple of months ago that my wife and I tried the Impossible Whopper at Burger King. Overall reviews on that: really good but not necessarily any more healthy than the “regular” stuff. We’d do it again.

I had seen ads for the new vegetarian menu at Taco Bell, so my wife and I have been talking for a while about checking it out.

Before my review, let me share that I am a pescatarian–a vegetarian who eats fish (but not shellfish). When I travel, I usually find vegetarian stuff to eat; this is true even at local restaurants. It is a lot better than it used to be as most people are trying to eat more healthy.

I give you this background to explain the difference between the Taco Bell experience and the Burger King one. At Burger King, it felt like they were trying to replicate the sensation of eating a meat Whopper; a meat substitute was central to that proposition. At Taco Bell, it seems more like their vegetarian menu is just meals without meat. This is not a negative, but just a different expectation; there was no fake ground beef or fake chicken–just meals that contained no meat. I have a feeling I could have accomplished this without an ad campaign to lure me in.

My take on the Taco Bell vegetarian experience? OK. I think the last time I ate there I was in high school (Carter was in the White House), so not a whole lot to compare it to. My wife and I both got one meal; they were OK but not nearly as filling as the Impossible Whopper. I guess I’m supposed to get more than one thing from the menu?

Like the Impossible Whopper, it is nice to know that there are vegetarian options at Taco Bell. Like Burger King, do not think that because it is vegetarian it is any more healthy; although the sour cream is low-fat, this is by no means “health food.” Would I try it again? Perhaps…but not necessarily rushing back.

Impossible Whopper Review

I have had a lot of conversations with folks about the Impossible Burger. As a pescatarian (vegetarian who eats fish), I have heard that is as close to the “real thing” as anything out there. Unfortunately, it appears to only be available in certain restaurants, most of which are nowhere near where I live.

On a ride to Columbus, my wife and I were getting hungry; the timing of our drive meant that we hadn’t eaten lunch yet and it was near 3 pm. Then the light bulb went off in my head; Burger King has an Impossible Whopper and there was one at the next exit. We decided to give it a shot.

Let me say that aside from a bathroom stop on a long highway drive and the occasional meal from Subway, I have not been in a fast food establshment in a looooooong time. It was surreal just to walk into a BK in the first place. This place did not hide the Impossible Whopper, but rather prominently featured the plant-based burger on the outside and inside of the store.

So, how was it? It is kind of difficult for me to compare it with real meat since I have not eaten meat in so long that I really don’t remember the taste and texture. Compared with other beggie burgers, however, I have to admit that it was pretty good. It looks a lot like a burger (as does the Griller Prime from Morningstar Farms). What made it so special was that it was served with all the same fixings as a regular whopper; it really felt like eating fast food which is a memory from my pre-teen years.

In terms of how healthy it is, the Impossible Whopper is about 660 calories and the regular Whopper is about 675 so it’s not really a “diet” alternative to the all-beef burger. Leave off the mayo and the bun and would be a lot fewer calories. Also, the manager told us that you can request a “vegan” Whopper that will be cooked in a microwave instead of on the grill–although we were assured that when they grill the Impossible Whopper they clean off the cook top so there isn’t any meat residue; the vegan is also mayonnaise-free.

Would I eat an Impossible Whopper again? If I were on a road trip and looking for something quick to eat on the way, I would definitely consider it. As a regular meal, I don’t think so. The Impossible Whopper is itself not so high in calories, but add the fries and a drink and it’s not the healthiest combo. If you haven’t tried it, though, I recommend you give it a shot. It is good to support businesses that are making more alternatives available to vegetarians.