It’s a brand-new year and a fresh new decade. Vegetarian, vegan and plant-based diets are becoming more popular than ever before. To reflect this, favourite fast-food restaurants have been creating new meals and snacks, usually with the help of plant-based protein products from Beyond Meat. To test them out, I had a Canadian Beyond Meat meal every day for almost an entire week, and here’s my honest opinion.
Whether you’re a strict vegan, a flexitarian or you simply dabble in plant-based cuisine, Canada is a great place to live.
In fact, it has repeatedly topped lists as a perfect place to be a vegetarian, and our fast-food restaurants have been stepping up their game to meet the demand.
Over the past few years, this country has experienced the introduction of huge veggie favourites, such as A&W’s iconic plant-based burger, as well as lesser-known alternative dishes such as Thai Express' Tofu Pad Thai.
Whatever the general opinion of these new products, it’s nice to have some vegetarian options, and I wanted to try them all to see who’s offering the best meal.
Taste-testing everything from Subway’s vegan meatball sub to Mucho Burrito’s Veggie Crumbles to a bonus tofu dish, I tried whatever Ottawa’s fast-food scene has on offer, and this is what I learned:
Beyond Meatball Marinara Sub
Firstly, veggie food doesn't look nice. I don't know why. As much as I tried to take a great picture of this sub, I failed. Miserably.
Luckily for those who care about fairness and accuracy, every photo I took on this journey looks equally horrible, so if I tell you it was delicious, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Despite my sloppy camera skills, this sandwich was actually pretty tasty!
When it comes to make-your-own scenarios like at Subway, a lot is going to depend on what you add, what you exclude, and how you season it — so there’s a lot of room for error.
When ordering their newest marinara topped dish, I wasn’t sure what to put in it. What actually goes with meatballs in a sandwich?
Leaning on some advice from the Subway staff, I added olives, jalapenos, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and, accidentally, pesto.
My bad choices are not the fault of this plant-based protein ball, and that’s important to keep in mind.
To keep it simple, the fake-beef balls are good. They taste similar to the normal Subway alternative, and if you enjoy meatballs in a sandwich, you’re probably going to like it.
But be careful with the extras. Lettuce doesn’t belong on this dish, vegetarian or not.
A&W Beyond Meat Burger
After trying this burger back in 2019, and only having wonderful things to say about the snack, I was feeling good about this taste-test.
With a better-looking picture (win) and no variables to make a mess with (double-win), this was simple, easy and hassle-free.
It’s meaty and has that kind of texture that you just know is bad for you. Like a beef burger, this kinda tastes unhealthy, which is what you’re often looking for from a fast-food joint.
That said, it’s served with a nice slice of tomato and a huge, crisp lettuce leaf, which means you won’t totally hate yourself afterwards.
It’s perfect hangover food, it’s perfect post-sport food, and it’s perfect late-night snacking food.
This burger is good, and you’re missing out if you haven’t tried it.
Mucho Burrito Beyond Meat Crumble
While I struggled with finding the perfect combinations for Subway’s veggie sub, I really came into my own at Mucho Burrito.
I added their Beyond Meat crumble — which is sort of mince-like in texture and beefy in taste — to a burrito that included quinoa, veggies, cheese, salsa, jalapenos, corn, cilantro and guacamole, and it was incredible.
This was my favourite plant-based fast food of the week. It had flavour, texture, and I would choose it over an animal-based meal every single time!
Again, it’s not their fault that I can’t take a decent photo of literally anything.
Quesada Beyond Meat Tacos
With the interest of comparing Mucho Burrito and Quesada's veggie crumble, I tried vegetarian tacos from the latter.
While they have the same name, this version of the ground plant-based product was slightly different.
It was less-crumbly and more chunky, and the small bites had more texture.
Again, it was beefy in taste, but this had more of a chicken-style texture, and the added spice with the taco really packed a flavoursome punch.
These tacos won't change your life, but if you're looking to get closer to veggie-friendly habits, it's a good place to start.
Thai Express Pad Thai With Tofu
By Friday, I was looking for something different in the fast-food scene. After all, not all vegetarians are looking for meat replacements.
As a bonus and a break from Beyond everything, I decided to investigate the veggie noodles on offer, and I'm glad I did!
Initially, it was hard to get notes on the taste of this pad thai, because I literally inhaled it, but to be honest, I did get bored about halfway through.
It's tasty, it's warm, it's got flavour (I ordered mine spicy), and it's the kind of meal you'll crave forever once you've tried it.
The tofu was crispy and had a nice texture, and I didn't find myself particularly missing chicken or shrimp in the dish.
That said, I did start to find it tedious at the halfway mark, so maybe it's best as a share-er?
Truthfully, in my effort to try as many meat-free meals as possible, I didn’t have a single bad experience.
At Subway, Mucho Burrito, A&W and even Quesada, I can confidently say the veggie option is on-par with, if not better than, the original versions of the same thing.
If I've learnt anything, aside from that I'll never make it as an Instagram food blogger, it's that trying new things is rewarding — and tasty!
If you head out for fast-food this weekend, try something new. You might just discover your new favourite meal.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of Narcity Media.