We're in the home stretch of vegan week and this is the last of junk food from the high street that I'll be devouring for some time, and while it would've been nice to go out on a high, I did not. The week started off well enough with the Greggs' Vegan Steak Bake and KFC's Original Recipe Vegan Burger, but things started unravelling pretty sharpish with the McDonald's Veggie Dippers and Subway's Meatless Meatball Marinara Melt. We were back in 'meh' territory with Tom's review of Pizza Hut's 'Pepperphoni' Pizza and now here we are with the Burger King Rebel Whopper, which isn't much better.
Now it should be noted that prior to these food reviews, I hadn't eaten Burger King in years, and when I did, I'd go for the bean burger - simple and tasty. If you've been following along with us here for vegan week, you'll know how persnickety I am about the meat I'm putting into my mouth, and going into a fast food joint for a helping of beef isn't on the agenda. But I braved it last month for the Impossible Whopper while I was in the US to see how it stacked up against the meat Whopper, and was pleasantly surprised! By both burgers. So I packed myself off to my local Burger King on the high street to try the chain's UK offering, because the Impossible burger's heme protein hasn't been approved by the European Food Standards Agency just yet.
Burger King UK's Rebel Whopper vs. its beefy counterpart
Just to address the big, meaty elephant in the room, the Rebel Whopper - just like the Impossible Whopper - isn't actually vegan as it comes. Nor is it vegetarian. It's served with mayo and is cooked on the same grill as the beef patties, so if that makes a difference to you, you should probably tap out. If you're meat-free for ethical reasons, you could order without mayo and be satisfied that you've not contributed to the exploitation of animals; even the Vegan Society will give you a free pass, saying it's ultimately down to preference.
Rebel Whopper (left) and OG Whopper (right)
While the Impossible Burger was slightly larger than the regular Whopper, the Rebel looks exactly the same. Side-by-side, when you unwrap them, they're indistinguishable from one another. The patties are a comparable size so you don't feel like you're getting some flimsy pressed-plant disc in place of a juicy burger. Although if you're after a juicy burger, Burger King is probably the last place you should be headed. Cutting them in half to have a little peek inside, the Rebel Whopper is a bit grey and sad. The Impossible Whopper definitely looks more meaty as you start gnawing your way through it, that's for sure.
Did someone paint those stripes onto the Rebel Whopper left)?
The texture of the Rebel is fairly soft and loose, but then it wasn't alive and held together with big cow muscles once upon a time, so we'll allow it. It's not as chewy as the meat patty and tastes...okay. You could swap it out with any other faux-meat burger and it would taste just the same. Which would be fine is you popped it in the oven or the pan at home, but this is Burger King. The reason it's cooked on the grill with all of those filthy meat patties is to get the famous BK flame-grilled taste. That's definitely true of the Impossible Whopper, which tastes great. But someone must've thrown the Rebel in the microwave because there wasn't so much as the hint of a spark. I guess it comes pre-painted with those griddle marks, because it sure as shit doesn't taste like it was anywhere near a grill.
The Rebel Whopper is a mediocre veggie burger at best, but if you enjoy the flame-grilled taste of a Whopper, you're not going to get that here. If you're just after a vegan-friendly burger that you can grab from the high street on your way home from work, then it'll do the job. Just remember to hold the mayo.