Last May, Wendy’s announced it would test a new meatless burger in two of it’s Columbus, Ohio restaurants. After getting great reviews from local magazines and customers, the company has now started offering the Black Bean Burger at all it’s Columbus Ohio locations as well as restaurants in Salt Lake City, UT. and Columbia, SC.
I’ve avoided most fast food restaurants at all costs for a few years now but not solely because of the lack of meatless options. Initially it was more so because I knew that whatever I ate from McDonalds, Burger King, or Wendy’s was sure to contain heavily processed ingredients, fillers, and artificial flavors, essentially: a large amount of chemicals with who knows how much REAL food.
That being said when I first heard that Wendy’s had a meatless burger, I wasn’t too impressed. While it may not have meat in it, I doubted the ingredients and how much real whole foods were used behind the scenes. According to their website, the patty itself is made out of black beans, wild rice, farro, onions, brown rice, carrots, quinoa, corn, green bell peppers and red bell peppers. The bun:? “A toasted multigrain bun featuring nine different grains and seeds including white sesame seeds, red quinoa and rolled oats.” Sounded too good to be true.
But I tried it, and honestly it tasted much better than I thought. They even managed to get the texture just right. I ordered the burger as is, which means it was smothered in a parmesan ranch sauce and topped with sliced pepperjack cheese, sliced tomato and romaine lettuce. The ranch flavor was so heavy I almost couldn’t enjoy the actual burger, but then again I’ve never been a huge fan of ranch. To make the burger VEGAN, go without the cheese and the sauce, as there are no animal products in the bun or the patty.
Its important to recognize that vegetarian does not necessarily mean HEALTHY or NUTRITIOUS, especially when we are talking about processed foods with added chemicals. There are plenty of meatless meals that are still loaded with dairy, refined sugars, bleached flours, and chemicals. Just like this Black Bean Burger.
In fact, when I compared it to an old college standard of mine, the JBC (that’s Junior Burger Cheeseburger), I was pretty surprised at the nutritional breakdown. The new black bean burger has more calories, more calories from fat, more TOTAL fat, more sodium, AND more sugar than the JBC. In fact the only thing that makes the JBC MORE unhealthy than the veggie version (besides the quality of the red meat and bacon of course) is the trans fat.
What shocked me the most about the breakdown of the black bean burger was the sugar count! A whopping 12 grams per serving, which appears to be coming from the high fructose corn syrup in the bun. The “multi-grain” option is advertised by having real whole grains, when in fact they are used minimally and with added flavorings and sugars, canceling out the benefits that come from the whole grains in the first place.
Overall? The burger is GOOD in taste and value, and will definitely fill you up. It’s awesome that fast food locations are at least attempting to offer something to the meat free crew and I do hope this continues. This burger is an example that vegetarian foods aren’t always healthier, and that it remains of high importance that we make time and effort to research what is in the food we eat, even the stuff with HEALTHY on its wrapper.