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Vegging Out - the fast-food experience

After five years of being a vegetarian, I’ve learned a thing or two about eating meat-free ─ especially how to maintain my lifestyle while out and about.

At first, I avoided restaurants. I was skeptical about finding meatless meals to eat.

As it turns out, vegetarian options are not as elusive as I once believed. In the first of a series on meat-free restaurant dining, I tried popular fast food joints for their green alternatives to good old hamburgers.

The first veggie burger I sampled was Burger King’s Veggie BK, which resembles the standard fast-food burger – lettuce, tomato, onion and ketchup on a white bun. The only difference is the soy-based, meat-free patty.

A Veggie BK trio ($5.49) includes a drink and a side of fries, onion rings, baked potato or salad.

Burger King is the only fast-food restaurant I’ve encountered that offers veggie burger kids meals. These are perfect for little vegetarians or for those with smaller appetites.

At Harvey’s, customers can personalize their veggie burgers trios ($5.85) with their choice of sides, and a variety of vegetable toppings and sauces for their burger. My favorite is the pickled hot peppers.

The choice of sides are limited to fries or onion rings. Athough Harvey’s veggie burger easily satisfies fast-food cravings, it isn’t exceptional. In fact, I enjoyed the onion rings more than I did the burger.

A&W’s Veggie Swiss (the most expensive trio at $7.09) features a Portobello mushroom patty, topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, Swiss cheese and a ranch-style sauce on a whole wheat bun.

The Veggie Swiss is one delicious burger − well worth its price. The difference lies in the Portobello patty, which is juicier and more flavorful than the soy-based alternative.

Lafleur offers both veggie burgers ($6.57 for a trio) and tofu dogs, ($6.93 for a trio) topped with ketchup and mustard, make a great midnight snack. For more substance, try the veggie burger.

Thanks to these restaurants, Montreal’s vegetarian community need not deny their fast-food cravings. Even the meat-eating population can profit from these healthier alternatives.

Next month, I’ll let you in on the Asian vegetarian experience.

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