America’s Changing over to a Healthy Vegetarian Diet. What about Taste?
Vegetarians have for long enough tried to show the typical omnivore how following a healthy vegetarian diet, you really don’t need to give up anything in taste. A veggie burger, they would say, could have just the same taste and texture of your cheeseburger and still manage to not end up killing an animal. But as fans of your traditional beef patty have seen time and time again, there’s always something seriously missing in all of these attempts. If you ate it, it was because it helped your conscience – this non-juicy, sadly soggy, non-aromatic thing that was supposed to be good for the planet.
But all of that is more or less in the past today. For a variety of reasons, the notion that a healthy vegetarian diet makes you live longer and keeps disease away has been making inroads into the collective consciousness. Experiments have been made and new kinds of substitute recipes discovered to actually tempt meat-eaters away from their beefy burgers. Expert chefs and experimenting enthusiasts have come together and tried to take vegetarian ingredients and turn them into something that even the most rigidly intolerant meat eater wouldn’t disapprove of. Restaurant owners around the country are beginning to take notice of how the American appetite is beginning to turn away from meat and towards a healthy vegetarian diet. When the tide truly turns, they want to be in a position where they can take advantage of it.
The chain of the vegetarian burger restaurants in Los Angeles called Umami, for instance, offers an Earth burger that contains no meat. It just makes do with ingredients like edamame, mushrooms, truffle aioli and ricotta. And yet, it offers an experience to the taste buds that is little different from the kind of dementingly delicious flavor that a traditional burger is capable of. LA, actually, seems to be a kind of center of a movement towards the burgers that can make for a healthy vegetarian diet. At Cru’s, also in LA, they make traditional recipes like South American sliders; but they make them with ingredients like sprouts, beans and spices. They’re deep-fried, soft and spiced up and absolutely delicious. And it’s beginning to happen all over the country now. People don’t look at you like you’re some kind of New Age nut if you offer a veggie burger on your menu. It’s beginning to go mainstream – demand has risen 25%.
With all these new burger chains opening up, and with everyday people giving themselves over to a healthy vegetarian diet, what are the emperors of the burger market – McDonald’s and Burger King – doing about it? In vegetarian countries around the world like India, they certainly do offer quite a bit of variety in their vegetarian burger menu. In America though, only Burger King has anything vegetarian on the menu. And it’s just one item. If you want to really explore the whole veggie burger scene better, try the book The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet by Joni Newman.
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