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May 29, 2010 02:06 PM

Vegetarian "chicken" in US chains

Fast food places in some other countries started serving veggie burgers years ago, and eventually the USA caught up. So now, fast food chains in the UK, India, and Canada have started carrying vegetarian chicken patties and/or nuggets...and I'm really hoping the trend will carry over to the US. Apparently, even KFC in Canada serves veggie chicken sandwiches. Maybe KFC, Burger King, or Chick-Fil-A here will one day do the same?

There's so many vegetarians in the US, for health, ethical, or religious reasons. And as grateful as I am to have veggie burgers popping up all over the place (Red Robin, Burger King, Subway, etc.), sometimes I want something different. If anyone agrees, feel free to write the chains and companies like Boca and Morningstar Farms to let them know!

On a similar note, any veggies visiting Montreal should check out one of the LaFleur fast food joints. They have veggie dogs, veggie burgers, and even veggie gravy on their poutine! I so wish this chain was international.

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  1. I don't know about Red Robin, but the U.S.-sold items you mentioned from Burger King and Subway are actual vegetable patties, not "imitation beef" soy burgers. McDonald's had a soy burger for a few years, the McVeggie, but it died a slow, ignominious death. So if there's been no history of success with imitation beef at U.S. chains, I highly doubt there will be any kind of a push anytime soon for imitation chicken - especially when there is already something of a public misperception that chicken is always healthier than beef to begin with.

    1. KFC has veggie chicken sandwiches? This I did not know!!

      On a side note, Montreal is wonderful for vegetarians. I have had some great meals there in veggie joints.

      1. I don't understand this. If you're a vegetarian, why do you want fake, highly-processed meat-like products? There are so many wonderful vegetarian dishes you can cook that don't involve fake foods.

        9 Replies
        1. re: pikawicca

          pikawicca: Unfortunately, sometimes the only dining option is a fast-food one.

          1. re: pikawicca

            Well, maybe sometimes the OP is accompanying a non-veggie to a chain restaurant?

            And, really, the OP wasn't asking about veggie options at home that she can cook; she wants to know why there is such a paucity of a particular type of vegetarian option on chain restaurant menus.

            Fair, albeit slightly weird, question.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Well, I'm an omnivore who doesn't eat at fast food restaurants for many reasons. I just don't see why a vegetarian would want to eat at someplace like McDonalds. I travel quite a bit, and have avoided eating fast food for many years. It's not thathard.

              1. re: pikawicca

                pikawicca, maybe you need to place yourself in any of these hypothetical scenarios (off the top of my head):

                - Your five co-workers like to regularly go to fast-food places for lunch, and you want to join them.

                - You're driving in the dead of night, and the only dining options are 24-hour fast-food road stops or drive-thrus.

                - Your child demands that you take him/her for lunch for a Happy Meal because he/she simply MUST have the toy that comes with it.

                - You're a fan of a chain's much-lauded fries, and you'd like to be able to get a sandwich to go with them.

                - Etc.

                1. re: pikawicca


                  It isn't about whether *you* actually eat at a chain or fast food establishment, or even whether one should eat at such places.

                  The OP isn't looking for moral or normative input or judgments.

                  Rather, the OP is simply asking a factual question -- why there aren't more veggie chicken options on fast food or chain restaurant menus.

                  So bear with the OP, and the rest of us who are not as culinarily enlightened as you, and humor us ...

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    It bears mentioning pikawicca, that as an omnivore traveler, you likely don't find it that hard, because there are heaps of protein laden choices out there for meat-eaters. Protein substitutes for a vegetarian are few and far between, unless you are in an area beans and tofu are likely to be on menus. There is only so much peanut butter and crackers you can live off.

                    You've never been a vegetarian traveler, in any you really can't see.

                2. re: pikawicca

                  Actually, this question comes up a lot. There is a long history of "processed"/"fake" meat (including tofu, yuba, tempeh) and seitan have been formed into blatantly meaty dishes for thousands of years in Buddhist cultures. These options are delicious and provide both nutrition and MUCH-needed variety for those of us sick of eating iceberg salad and fries in restaurants. I'd explain myself further, but it's semi-off topic and everyone else did a great job on my behalf...thanks fellow chowhounds! :)

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    It always boggled my mind why they make vegetarian food and shape it to look like meat. shape it like a carrot!

                    1. re: joe777cool

                      I don't really consider a patty of any sort to be meat shaped. It's just a patty. We make bean patties a lot at home. A falafel is in essence a patty or "nugget" shaped, depending on the size. The patty is just a convenient shape for eating on the go.

                      Now, tofu or seitan formed into the shape of a roasted turkey for Thanksgiving? That I have never understood, nor been tempted to make or taste.

                  2. I think this is a great trend! Some meat substitutes are not made from terrifying ingredients and chemicals, and do actually provide a great option for someone who doesn't want to eat meat. I am not a vegetarian, but I sometimes eat meat analogs because a.) they taste good, b.) they're often low in fat and high in protein, and c.) they're an environmentally sound food choice.

                    I heard a few months ago that some Chipotle locations were serving gardein mock chicken on their menus. I haven't seen this in my area (Northern California) but I hope they decide to take it nation-wide!

                    For anyone who's interested, here's my review of gardein's chick'n fillets -- I thought they were pretty good.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: operagirl

                      Something I've always found odd is why Wendy's has so few vegetarian options. Yes, I know their main business is burgers, but they regularly come up with 'specials" and such, at the same time ditching some vegetarian options (like the spring salad they had a while back, and the greek pitas). They've never to my knowledge had a veggie burger.

                      1. re: operagirl

                        Thanks for the tip! I'm hoping more places will follow the trend. Most of the people in my circle of family and friends are meat-eaters, yet almost all of them occasionally eat Morningstar Famrs chik'n nuggets or veggie sausage, Boca burgers, etc....because they're tasty and often have less fat than the alternatives.

                      2. The original comment has been removed