Wendy's Tests and Discontinues Vegan Burgers

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Wendy's fast-food chain test-marketed a veggie burger beginning in 2015 in several cities. However, the item, called the black bean burger, was discontinued in July 2017. At that time, the company said they would continue to evaluate what they learned and look for opportunities to satisfy their customers. There was much hype and support for the offering among vegans and vegetarians. Here is the history of the burger and your other vegan and vegetarian choices at Wendy's.

Wendy's Black Bean Burger Debuts in Test Markets

Wendy's was a bit late to the game since many national chains, including Denny's, Burger King, Red Robin, and White Castle have all had a veggie burger on their menu for years, although the patty may not be vegan. For example, Burger King uses a Morningstar veggie patty that is not vegan. The patty used by Wendy's was vegan as well as vegetarian.

The first markets to try Wendy's black bean burgers were Salt Lake City, Utah, Columbus, Ohio, and Columbia, South Carolina. The stunt performer and animal rights activist Steve-O was a noted campaigner supporting Wendy's placing a vegan sandwich on their menu.

There are differing philosophies among those on a plant-based diet. Some say "support it or lose it." While supporting all-vegetarian and all-vegan businesses as much as possible, they want to encourage national chains to offer meat-free options. If it's good enough for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to support, it's good enough for them.

Others disagree, preferring not to support meat-based restaurants and industries, even when they offer meatless options.

Wendy's has not elaborated why they discontinued the burger, whether due to lack of demand, higher costs, or that customers didn't like the specific veggie burger offered.

Nutritional Content of the Black Bean Burger

The veggie burger at Wendy's was a black bean burger with a Southwest theme, made from a blend of black beans, grains, pepper, corn, and carrots with plenty of spices including garlic and chili pepper. The black bean veggie burger came with cheese and a Parmesan ranch dressing, so vegans would have to ask them to hold the sauce and the cheese when ordering. The patty, bun and other ingredients were all indeed vegan, according to Wendy's.

With 14 grams of protein and just 10 grams of fat (without the cheese and Parmesan ranch sauce), the Wendy's black bean burger wasn't too bad of a choice if you needed a quick vegetarian or vegan meal on the run, or if you were accompanying non-vegan friends out for a bite to eat. 

They cooked the veggie burger on a separate oven so the patty wasn't grilled on the same surface as the regular meat burgers, thus avoiding touching any leftover meat juices.

Vegetarian and Vegan Options at Wendy's

Wendy's plain baked potato is a hearty vegan option. Vegetarians can opt for it with sour cream and chives or cheese. Team it with the garden side salad (sans the croutons if you are vegan since they contain milk) for a nice meal. The apple slices make a healthy dessert or addition to the salad.

The fries are cooked in vegan cooking oil and are also acceptable. Consider ordering a burger without the burger, thus turning it into a veggie sandwich. Some vegans enjoy adding fries inside the bun for a DIY "frywich."