I eat more than just veggie burgers, you know. #vegetarianism #wendys #fastfood

It looks like Wendy’s is experimenting with veggie burgers. Good for them. On a personal level, I have three immediate thoughts about this:

  1. Even when I ate meat, I never ate at Wendy’s;
  2. If the Wendy’s around here offered the veggie burgers, I still probably wouldn’t eat there;
  3. I’m sick of restaurants only offering veggie burgers for us vegetarians, when there’s plenty of other food that they could be preparing.

I get that that last gripe isn’t going to get very far at a fast-food chain. I was referring to a larger problem that I face whenever I go out to eat. Here in northern New England vegetarianism doesn’t seem to be taking off as fast as I would like it to. But does that really exclude people who do eat meat to possibly try a vegetarian entrée once in a while?

On top of that, there’s a lot of food that I can’t eat that restaurants will label as vegetarian when it isn’t. The biggest problem that I’ve had in that regard is parmesan cheese. It, along with several other cheeses (although usually specialty cheeses that I don’t run into anyway) contain a chemical called rennet. There are multiple types of rennet, such as microbial rennet, which I can eat, or rennet that’s made from animal parts. Unfortunately, manufacturers of cheese products that contain rennet aren’t required to label which kind of rennet they use—for that matter, they aren’t required to say if they use rennet at all. All they have to do is throw on the word “enzymes” and they’re covered as far as the government is concerned. However, for an ethical vegetarian like myself (and obviously, I’m not a vegan), that means I have no idea what I would be ordering in that case. That means I can no longer order most dishes at Italian restaurants, out of caution. It’s a shame. I love fettucine alfredo.

To get back to Wendy’s, like I said, I don’t really care that they’re trying out veggie burgers. The only reason I would order one in the first place would be if there weren’t better options available nearby. Despite my above complaining, there are better options around here. If anything, I could run over to a grocery store and get a salad, or get some groceries and go back home. After all, the only Wendy’s around here is in the retail district where I work. So in that case, I’m likely to already have brought lunch with me in the first place.

Why not have a fast-food vegetarian food franchise? Maybe it wouldn’t work around here, but I understand vegetarianism is big out on the other side of the country. Is there such a thing over there? If not, would it work? This is yet another one of those business ventures that I wouldn’t be interested in running myself. I just want it to exist. How feasible would a drive-through salad bar be? What about rice and corn-based kid’s meals with free toys inside? Or how about just offering more vegetarian options at more restaurants so some of us can go out to eat more often?

One final thought: you’ll notice that I’m not including fast-food joints that do offer vegetarian foods in malls. Some of them, such as the Indian places, do offer a variety of vegetarian food. But I would never recommend mall food in the first place.

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