Vegetarians…We Are Not Alone

Impossible Burger at Hell's Kitchen, Minneapolis

It used to be a pretty lonely business going out to eat in a restaurant as a pescatarian/vegetarian. Other folks see 100 items on the menu, but we see 5 or 6…or at least we used to.

There is a boom in the plant-based food industry and it is not because there are suddenly more vegetarians or vegans. The NPD group, a market research firm based in New York State, is reporting that of all those purchasing and eating plant-based burgers 89% are not vegetarian or vegan! 89%!!!

This is according to an article which recently appeared on Here is the link:

My wife and I went out to dinner with friends this evening and one of them ordered an Impossible Burger (so did I!). He is a meat eater, but we convinced him to give it a try. He liked it. As the article states, it seems that plant-based foods have crossed a threshold; taste has finally caught up to what consumers are looking for. Those looking for variety in their diet want to try new things, but will only stick with it if the taste holds up. Products like the Impossible Burger or nearly everything made by Gardein ( hold their own against animal-based products.

Of course, just because something is plant-based doesn’t mean that it is necessarily healthier to eat. When you order a burger at a restaurant, it may have some salt, pepper, and other spices mixed in but it is otherwise usually not highly processed. Compare this with an Impossible Burger’s ingredients and you’ll see that it is quite processed indeed.

Even so, as the taste meets a higher standard and profitability grows for plant-based food companies, we can expect to see more variety and more healthy options available for everyone–not just vegetarians. Given the impact of the meat industry on the environment, this could be a win for the planet as well.

This is an interesting and exciting trend and it is nice to know that as vegetarians we are not alone.

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.

What Happens When You Only Read the Headline

Police arrest Batman

An interesting article appeared on a few days ago with the following headline: “Vegetarians might have higher risk of stroke than meat eaters, study says.” NOOOOOOOO!

I have been a pescatarian for nearly 15 years and this news was shocking to me…or, at least, the headline was. Read the article, and one gets a very different story.

Although there is a higher risk of stroke (which some believe was a conclusion reached incorrectly by the researchers due to their misuse of “weighting” in the study), vegetarians are at a much lower risk of heart disease. In fact, the lower risk to heart health far outweighs the risk of stroke.

What was the “weighting?” The study took into account in classifying study subjects that vegetarians are, in general, more healthy than meat-eaters. Well, duh. The study comes from BMJ, a very well-respected journal out of London, UK. The article from CNN, though, suggests that more research is needed. So, nothing like publishing a misleading headline about an inconclusive and possible flawed study. I guess that is what they mean by click-bait.

By the way, pescatarians are not at the same risk of stroke and reap most of the benefits with regard to heart health. So you may still want to put those ribs down and reach for some halibut or salmon.

A warning: don’t just get your news from reading headlines–be they about health or any other topic–spend the few minutes needed to read the article–especially before you post it online or share it with friends.

Here is the link:

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.

Recipe Wednesday: Passover Vegetable Nut Loaf

Looking for a Passover entree for your vegetarians that has protein AND actually tastes good? I have had this recipe for more than ten years; it came from the VSR Newsletter Recipe…which does not seem to exist online anymore.

This recipe can be made into a loaf, or used as a layer of “meat” in a Shepherd’s Pie; I have even made small burgers out of it. Enjoy!

Passover Vegetable Nut Loaf

Serves 8


1 large onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 large carrots, grated

3 cups of mixed ground nuts [I use a cup each of almonds, cashews, and pecans)

1 cup matzoh meal

4 tablespoons tomato paste

1 large onion, sliced thinly

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock


Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Mix all ingredients, except vegetable stock and sliced onion. Grease ovenproof casserole dish; place sliced onions all over the bottom. Form nut and carrot mixture into a loaf and place on top of sliced onions. Bake 45 minutes. Baste with vegetable stock every 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.