A new year comes with new beginnings, resolutions and hopes of being a little more healthy.
Whatever your resolutions for 2022, trying to reduce your meat intake and load up on vegetables is a good start to your healthy habits.
And it’s vegetarian—one that has only emerged into widespread public knowledge in recent years, but it has captured the imagination of everyone, including those fast food giants.
Read more: We Tried Burger King’s New Vegan Nuggets — and This One Thing Really Surprised Us
This week, McDonald’s has released its McPlant Burger – while Burger King has become the first fast-food restaurant in the UK to offer vegetarian nuggets. They join the plant-based Whopper that came out with Vegan Royale last year.
Meanwhile, KFC has brought back the Original Recipe Vegan Burger and made it a permanent menu item.
And Subway has a TLC Tikka and Meatless Meatball Marinara, and Greg’s has Vegan Sausage Rolls and Vegan Sausage, Bean, and Cheese Melts.
But how good are they? Which food outlet has got it right?
And could it turn those fast-food carnivores down the plant path?
We tried some vegetarian options from McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Greg’s and Subway to find out.
McDonald’s – The McPlant Burger
So McDonald’s McPlant burgers arrived this week in all of its UK restaurants, including Birmingham – after a successful test run in selected locations.
McDonald’s describes it as “a vegetarian burger that goes beyond co-evolved meat with juicy plant-based patties that include cheese in a vegetarian sandwich sauce, ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and sesame seeds.” For a vegetarian option.”
According to their website, it contains 429 calories per portion — and contains 2.2 grams of salt and 20 grams of fat.
The patty is made by Beyond Meat and is made using various stabilizers and flavors, including pea and rice proteins, as well as apple and carrot.
We opted to have just the burger ourselves, which cost us £3.39. You can have it as a meal for £4.99.
At first glance and smell, it looked like your average McDonald’s burger.
And if I’m being honest, it looked like it was put together better than usual! Only a little bit of lettuce is falling into the box, but otherwise perfectly put together.
Its taste was also very good. I was pleasantly surprised.
If I’m honest, it felt like the typical taste of your first bite of a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder—sauce, onion, you could fool me.
The patty tasted good on its own too. It was thinner than your typical burger, but it made up for it with its flavor.
Even vegan cheese didn’t feel or taste like plastic—as some people have done before.
Overall, I really enjoyed it – and could see myself ordering it off the menu again.
KFC – Original Recipe Vegetarian Burger
KFC is permanently bringing back its Original Recipe Vegan Burger.
Vegetarians, vegans, flexitarians and meat lovers can get their hands on KFC’s Vegan Burger now available across the UK.
It is described as “an original recipe Quorn fillet, coated in our famous 11 herbs and spices, in a sesame bun with fresh lettuce and vegetarian mayo.”
The website continues: “This is a vegetarian burger the Colonel would be proud to have his name on.”
It contains 450 calories, according to KFC—with 2.86 grams of salt and 19 grams of fat.
The burger cost us £3.99 on its own.
At first glance, it seemed rather boring. Just some Quorn, a little lettuce and a drizzle of mayo dab onto a bun.
But, it was a prime example not to judge a book by its cover.
It was delicious—and nice to know you can get that tangy, spicy KFC flavor with a meat-free option.
I love Quorn so I’m not going to go wrong – I love Quorn nuggets and often have chunks of Quorn in the stir fry.
But when it was combined with that secret recipe, it was an all-out victory.
It was even a little more spicy than your average KFC chicken—with a slight kick to it.
This could have been done with a little salad and mayo, but overall I was wooed.
4.5 / 5
Subway – TLC Tikka Subo
Subway has been embracing vegetarian food for quite some time – with a variety of items to try over the years.
Following the success of ‘Meatless Meatball Marinara’ in 2020 and its plant-based steaks and plant-only patties, it also offers TLC tikkas.
Subway’s website states: “Introducing our new plant-based TLC tikka, incredibly delicious. Flavored with traditional Indian spices, packed with crunchy vegetables.”
According to the website, it contains 302 calories — along with 1.9 grams of salt and 3.7 grams of fat.
The six-inch sub-alone cost us £4.99 – which we thought was pretty expensive.
TLC stands for ‘Tastes Like Chicken’. It’s not really sad.
I found the texture to be very rubbery, which made it, in my opinion, quite unpleasant to eat. It felt very processed.
After a few bites, I couldn’t bear it any more and sadly couldn’t finish the sub.
The taste, however, is good – the tikka masala really came through and gave that nice little kick to what I tried.
I kept the vegetables fairly simple, adding just the lettuce and cucumber – and with the help and advice of the helpful person behind the counter, chose the vegetarian garlic aioli sauce, which was pretty good too.
I also wasn’t a fan of vegan cheese—it felt like soft plastic, and didn’t taste at all.
If the texture of the meat substitute was improved, I think overall, it would be a good sandwich and would be quite enjoyable especially changing up the taste of the tikka.
But for now, it’s not on my part.
Burger King – Plant Based Whopper
Burger King this week launched its new vegetarian nuggets made with soy and pea protein, and was given its seal of approval by the Vegan Society.
But we’ve already tried and tested this against chicken nuggets—so we chose something different on the menu.
We went for the plant based whopper.
It was trialled in 2020 before being launched in restaurants last year.
However, it is cooked on the same broiler as the original Whopper to give it “the same unique flame-grilled flavor” – so it cannot be certified as vegetarian.
Burger King’s website states: “A flame-grilled plant-based burger, topped with tomatoes, freshly chopped lettuce, vegetarian mayo, pickles, a swirl of ketchup, and sliced onions on a soft sesame seed .
“The Plant-Based Whopper is plant-based, though it is cooked on the same broiler to deliver the same unique flame-grilled flavor as our original Whopper.”
According to the website, that’s 554.7 calories per serving—with 2.8 grams of salt and 26.9 grams of fat!
It cost us £5.99 for just one burger which we thought was a crazy price for just one burger.
At first glance, it looked like your typical Burger King burger—I thought.
And on the first bite the flavors of onion, pickle, and ketchup overpowered the plant-based burger in a way that you couldn’t really taste it, or know you weren’t eating meat.
Trying the patty alone, it wasn’t the worst thing I’d ever tried—it didn’t taste as good as McDonald’s version and it also left a quirky taste in your mouth.
It also had pan marks, which I’m sure are going to look like your normal burger.
But when you mixed all the flavors together – it worked.
I probably won’t be in a hurry to order this burger again on the next trip should I prefer their vegetarian nuggets. But it wasn’t all bad and was worth a try.
Greggs – Vegan Ham and Cheese Baguette with Quorn
Greggs has a lot on offer—and last year even replaced it with a vegan festive bake.
Since its launch in early 2019, the Vegan Sausage Roll has also been extremely popular—which I’m also a huge fan of.
And last summer, it added vegan sausage, bean and cheese melts.
We wanted to try the vegetarian sausage, bean and cheese melts, but it wasn’t available when we went. So instead, we went for the vegetarian ham and cheese baguette with Quorn – which costs £3.30.
Greg’s website states: “Introducing our first vegetarian-friendly baguette, the much-anticipated Vegan Ham and Cheese Baguette is out. That’s right, we’ve created everyone’s favorite vegetarian-friendly sandwich.
“Designed to reflect some of the delicious flavors of classic ham and cheese, we teamed up with our friends at Quorn to create a delicious vegan ham with QuornTM mycoprotein and serve it with mouth-watering ripe cheddar flavored slices placed on top.
“Get down to your nearest Greg to have a try. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.”
That’s 467 calories — with 11 grams of fat and 2.8 from salt.
At first glance, it didn’t look that tasty. It seemed rather boring.
But I guess what’s not so exciting about a ham and cheese baguette?
At my local Greg’s, the helpful lady behind the counter asked if I wanted it hot or cold—and since most of the food here is hot, I opted for hot.
The first bite, it wasn’t all that bad. The vegetarian ham was quite nice and delicious. It had a much darker pink color than a normal ham.
But the cheese was the winner. Compared to the cheese at Subway Subway – it was pretty close to the real deal.
And because of the heat, it had melted immediately.
Would I choose to have a baguette again? Possibly. It was cool – but it needed something more for me.
Even if they just added some salad it would have been better.
3.5 / 5
Who knew that a place that specializes in chicken, and only chicken, would come out top trumps with their vegetarian food.
I myself was surprised that the KFC Original Recipe Vegan Burger was my favorite.
This was actually the last time I tried, and was the best. I managed to eat it even after sampling all the other dishes.
But the herbs and spices really gave it that kick and distinct flavor you needed, and will make you think you’re just eating KFC.
McPlant was a pretty close second—and you couldn’t really tell the difference between him and your typical Quarter Pounder or Big Mac, not really.
I will definitely try it again.
I could see myself trying Greg’s Vegan Ham and Cheese Baguette again. However, I am more partial towards vegetarian sausage rolls.
Sadly, I’d stay away from Subway’s TLC Tikka Sub and Burger King’s Plant Based Whopper, they didn’t win me over — and I really didn’t like TLC at all.
Read more: ‘Heartful and rich’ vegetarian pies now on the menu at Mad O’Rourkes Pie Factory
Read more: These are the best vegetarian restaurants to try at Vegetarian in Birmingham
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