By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only

People for Ethical Treatment of Some Animals

"I bit into it, and it was delicious. The burger had great
texture and flavor. Everything tasted fresh."

Eric Marcus, author of VEGAN: The New Ethics of Eating

Click on the website for the People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals (PETA) and up pops one of those
annoying pop-up ads. I hate pop-up ads, but this one gets
waaaaay under my skin:

"Try The BK Veggie - New at Burger King"

I came, I saw, I clicked... and now I'm sore.

PETA wants you to visit and support BK.

PETA is urging activists to "put down their protest signs
and put on their bibs."

I did just that this past weekend, when attending an
exposition in Hartford, Connecticut, where I sold out my
entire stock of SoyToy soymilk makers.

I stayed in the Red Roof Inn, which shared a parking lot
with the local Burger King. Not exactly a natural combo, me
and Burger King, but I set aside my preconceived notion of
breaking bread with the enemy. Jennifer (my seventeen-year-
old daughter) was helping me with the show. We had passed a
truck loaded with live pigs on I-95, and Jen was ready,
willing, and ably motivated to explore a non-animal meal.

We approached the customerless counter at 3 PM at the same
time that the manager approached the register. I requested
"One veggie burger." They had to make it special for Jen.
$1.99 plus 12 cents tax.

I took advantage of a lull in the usual rush, and "made
nice" with the manager. I asked if the veggie burger had a
special sauce. He replied, "Yes, it does, a vegetarian

I asked for an ingredient list, which he did not have, but
he did tear a piece of corrugated from the original box
which held 8 2-pound pouches of Burger King's "special
veggie sauce."

Manufactured by Cargill, the special sauce contains:

Water, soybean oil, corn syrup, egg whites, distilled
vinegar, Modified food starch, salt, sugar, spice, xanthan
gum, mustard Flour, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate as
preservatives, Lemon juice, polysorbate 60, calcium disodium
EDTA to Protect flavor, oleoresin paprika, sodium citrate,
annatto color, mono & diglycerides.

Egg whites? While we may not know the answers to why the
chicken crossed the road, or which came first, the chicken
or the egg, we do know the answer to the question:

"Which part of the egg becomes the chicken, the white or the
yolk?" The answer, or course, is the white. Yolk means food,
and provides nutrients for a chicken which grows within a
shell. Eat egg whites, and you are eating a developing
chicken embryo. Most people do so without a second thought,
but vegetarians are not "most people." If vegetarians are
told that they are eating a vegetarian burger, they do not
expect to devour the fetus of a potential living creature.

PETA respectfully asks you to write or call Burger King's
CEO, John Dasburg. They offer his address and phone number:

"Please write or call Burger King's CEO to thank him for the
introduction of the veggie burger at his restaurants

John Dasburg, CEO
Burger King Corporation
5505 Blue Lagoon Dr
Miami, FL 33126
Tel.: 305-378-3000"

I took PETA up on their invitation, and called Mr. Dasburg
on Monday, November 4th at 10:00 AM. His personal assistant
(Carol) told me that Mr. Dasburg was "out of the office
today," and I explained my concern.

Her response:

"We've never represented that our burger is a vegetarian
burger. It's a veggie burger."

I told her that her comment was deceptive. While I might not
litigate, others may very well decide to do so.

I do not like being deceived by companies with clever
marketing campaigns.

I like even less being deceived by PETA.

Eating sesame-seed, dairy-based burger buns is a betrayal to
cows, whose lives and deaths represent the least
compassionate of any farmed animal.

I urge you to contact PETA's founder and executive director,
Ingrid Newkirk.

Eating dead chicken embryos in a veggie burger is a
deception. Ingrid Newkirk began her activism by
participating in courageous acts of animal rescue. The
Ingrid Newkirk who inspired me to become an animal advocate
once walked down a very narrow path, and all of her actions
were entirely consistant and heroic.

Supporting a company that makes a not-so-veggie burger is a
betrayal to egg-laying chickens who live a life of painful


Help Ingrid Newkirk and PETA to see that supporting Burger
King's un-veggie burger is helping to defeat the spirit of
the animal rights movement. In doing so, we betray both the
animals and ourselves.

Ingrid Newkirk:  (she will get your email)
501 Front Street
Norfolk, VA 23510

Ask Ingrid to post this on PETA's website:

If you order Burger King's veggie burger, do so without the
"special sauce."

I have trouble entering Burger King. I smell the burning
grilled flesh, and I think of screaming animals being
slaughtered. I smell their burning skin and hair. The odor
is offensive to me. I am uncomfortable entering such
establishments. Many vegetarians go back to eating meat, and
such compassionate food choices might act to get their feet
into the door.

I spoke with Bruce Friedrich of PETA, who loves the idea of
Burger King's compassionate choice. I see his point, of
course, but wish that people would support vegetrian
restaurants or health food stores with their dollars rather
than contribute to the bottom line of a fast food franchise
that will always promote dead animal parts as their primary
food fare. Bruce told me that six thousand Burger King
franchises presently offer veggie burgers. If each franchise
sells ten quarter-pounder veggie burgers each day, we save a
herd of cows which would otherwise have been eaten.

Perhaps that's true, but the one vegetarian making his or
her statement in a carload of office workers would do better
by diverting everybody to a different restaurant serving
alternative non-meat food choices.

Bruce explained that PETA advises its readers:

"You can ask servers to hold the mayo..."

However, PETA does so only after writing:

"It contains 330 calories and 10 grams of fat, including 2
grams of saturated fat."

PETA does NOT explain that the "special sauce" is not vegan.
They have an obligation to spell this out, right up front,
not buried deep within their article of support.

Keep your enemy close, of course, and break bread with him
too, but that does not mean eating foods containing dead

Follow-up I first tasted a vegetarian Boca burger four years ago at the Natural Products Expo in Baltimore, and came back for seconds and thirds before somebody told me that Boca's veggie burgers contained cheese. What a shame. They were delicious. Since that time, I have sampled dozens of other brands of veggie burgers, from all veggie to soy to bean to wheat gluten to mushroom. I've been to summer vegan barbecues and diners, and the famous "Lunch" seafood restaurant in Montauk, New York, and have savored just about every veggie burger that I've had the pleasure to munch and swallow. There is one exception. Burger King's version. Here we find a prime example of media-induced hysteria. Am I supposed to be thankful and pay tribute to America's fast food giant because they offer me the option of having it my way by producing the worst-tasting veggie burger on the market? You're reading it here first. BK's veggie burger tastes like moist, overcooked vegetable stuffing. This is mass hypnosis at work, or a case of "the emperor's new clothes" phenomena. Most vegetarians, in their euphoric states of self-induced deception, call this tasteless lump of lifeless crushed vegetables "gourmet food," unable to tell the truth for fear that their politically correct food- Nazi vegan friends will criticize their ability to discriminate truth from crapola. Is there not one little boy in the crowd with honest enough taste buds willing to stand up and expose Burger King's sham for what it is? Erik Marcus, author of VEGAN: The New Ethics of Eating, writes: "I bit into it, and it was delicious. The burger had great texture and flavor. Everything tasted fresh." What were you thinking, Erik? Perhaps you would like a bite of my new sawdust burger, collected from one of the ancient trees that Julia Butterfly Hill was unable to save. PETA is urging activists to "put down their protest signs and put on their bibs." I say, take off your bib and get the Ipecac. The BK burger would be better off recycled in your compost heap. The logical conclusion to Burger King's experiment is that they will one day discontinue this burger because it sucks. Having tasted this excuse for a burger once, what masochist would go back for seconds? I apologize if I offend you by my language, dear reader, but I can think of no better word than "sucks" to describe Burger King's effort, and therein lies their obvious strategy. This horrible excuse for a fast food meal could not have been their best effort. I must conclude that they intentionally made their burger taste bad. They may have greased more than their grills. Did BK grease the palms of certain vegetarian activist groups so that they would extol the virtues and taste of this tasteless food? When that occurs, PETA and other vegetarian organizations promoting this gruel will be left with egg on their faces from BK's special non-vegan sauce that gives it one degree of flavor. That may be part of BK's clever plan. When the veggie burger goes down in flames, as it must, that will play right into the hands of Burger King executives who exist only to sell more nuggets of chicken flesh and ground cow. There are too many misguided vegans, who urge people to eat non-animal food like Burger King's limp, moist chopped veggie stuffing, and pretend that it's delicious. It is not. The problem with many vegetarian foods is that they do not taste good. Meat eaters are not easily satisfied by limp tasteless concoctions, and therein is the ultimate challenge faced by the vegetarian movement. Delicious food options are available, but BK's burger does not even make the list. If that is the example we vegetarians want to show America, we shall fail miserably in our efforts to promote compassion for animals and good health for humans. Don't just take my word for it. Visit Burger King. Overpay $2 for a veggie burger, while all other items are on sale. Bring a doggy bag. If your dog is anything like mine, he or she may eat anything. The Burger King veggie burger is overpriced people food and overpriced dog food. After taking one bite of BK's veggie burger, you will agree with me that it's not fit for human consumption. Why will Burger King not offer a delicious veggie burger option? Because they cannot afford to. Because it would be good for business, and in that sense, it would actually be bad for business. The worst investment that Burger King could make would be to offer tasty alternatives to meat.

Robert Cohen, author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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