A tower of disappointment … the new vegan cheeseburger from Hungry Jack's.
A tower of disappointment … the new vegan cheeseburger from Hungry Jack's.

How is it? Hungry Jack’s new vegan burger

As someone who passionately loves food, every meal counts to me.

And today I sacrificed a precious meal by road-testing Hungry Jack's new vegan "cheeseburger" which debuted in more than 400 restaurants across the country as a permanent menu item today.

Here is what it looks like in the promo picture:

Look at it sitting upright, all proud and morally superior.
Look at it sitting upright, all proud and morally superior.

And here is what it looks like in real life, in the fist of someone who wishes they'd ordered differently:

If you squint, it looks like it is laughing at you.
If you squint, it looks like it is laughing at you.

I have to acknowledge that it may have been a better idea to get a vegan to taste test this, as my tastebuds are coming from a world of seared steak and piquant gooey cheese.

If my diet had consisted largely of legumes and vegetables for the past little while, this might have been a fairer test.

But nobody else was available and that's showbiz, baby.

There are a few things to note on initial encounter with this "cheeseburger".

The first is I have never seen "cheese" behave like that. This vegan cheese has the same consistency as a bus ticket, and arguably less flavour.

The vegan cheese … a thin lurid-yellow sheet of solidified gel.
The vegan cheese … a thin lurid-yellow sheet of solidified gel.

The second thing that hits you is the "100 per cent Australian beef" stamp on the box that cruelly points out what you're not eating.

This is a burger with very little structural integrity. That fallen piece of lettuce is a sign of what’s ahead.
This is a burger with very little structural integrity. That fallen piece of lettuce is a sign of what’s ahead.

"But what does it taste like?" I hear nobody asking.

Put it this way. You know a burger is in trouble when the dominant taste is the shredded iceberg lettuce.

This is, by far, one of the blandest things I have ever consumed. And I once ate a box of wanton wrappers on a particularly dark day.

The press release claims that the burger comprises "two delicious veggie patties (made with 100 per cent Aussie veggies including carrots, peas, potato and capsicum), melted vegan cheese, ripe hand-cut tomato, fresh lettuce, ketchup and locally made vegan mayo on a sesame seed bun".

While I agree that the burger has two veggie patties in it, the claim that they are "delicious" is dubious to say the least. Sure, I think all the vegetables listed are present and accounted for, but somebody should have introduced them to some herbs and spices or salt and pepper at least. Hell, through a few onion rings in there too and you might actually have yourself a mouth party.

“Peas? Present! Corn? Present! Carrots? Present! Flavour? … Flavour was never even enrolled at this school.”
“Peas? Present! Corn? Present! Carrots? Present! Flavour? … Flavour was never even enrolled at this school.”

The one triumph is the vegan mayo. It tasted vaguely of fat and that was a welcome oasis in this wasteland of a burger.

Let me conclude by saying I have the utmost respect for my vegan friends and this taste test is in no way a dig at the vegan community.

To have that commitment to abstaining from animal products when prosciutto and soft cheese exist in this world is a remarkable feat as far as I am concerned. You are better people than I.

And to give credit where credit's due, you have to tip your hat to Hungry Jack's for catering to the vegan community, so they no longer have to hold their head up defiantly and pretend they are perfectly happy with an order of fries.

But it's important to remember that vegans have tastebuds too. I've eaten plenty of vegan food when I am dining with my plant-lovin' mates, and I know that it doesn't have to taste like low-rent lettuce.


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