Burger King is the first international fast food chain to sell vegetable-based burgers in the Prague. The Rebel Whopper is being rolled out in 25 countries and 25,000 outlets across Europe, including the Czech Republic.
“Are you rebelling against the meat? Vegetable-based Rebel Whopper is finally in the Czech Republic, so come and taste! And tag your buddies who appreciate 0% of meat just like you,” Burger King Česká republika announced on Facebook and Instagram.
The Rebel Whopper is made with a patty made by Dutch-based The Vegetarian Butcher, an imitation meat manufacturer owned by Unilever since the end of 2018. Before the big continent-wide launch, Burger King tested the Rebel Whopper and the Rebel Chicken King in Sweden. In the US, Burger King has been offering a different vegetable burger made by Impossible Foods.
The patty for the Rebel Whopper is made of soy, wheat, vegetable oil, and spices. The sandwich, though, is not vegan, as it still uses egg-based mayonnaise and is cooked on the same grills as meat products. People can request the Rebel Whopper with no mayo to avoid eggs, but they cannot have it cooked on a different grill.
The Czech branch of Burger King confirmed over Facebook that the burgers were not vegan. “Rebel Whopper is not primarily for vegetarians and vegans because we don’t prepare it on a separate grill,” they said in answer to a comment. Response over social media has been largely mixed, with people complaining about the grill issue, and others welcoming a chance to try the new burgers.
The management for Europe said it was optimistic the sandwich will find an audience among those who want to find alternatives to meat.
“We are confident that the Rebel Whopper is the sandwich everyone has been waiting for and provides the ultimate plant-based patty alternative with the iconic Whopper build. I’m excited to let the Rebel Whopper do the talking and see whether our guests can tell the difference!” David Shear, president of Burger King EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), said in a press release.
He also said The Vegetarian Butcher was “the best possible partner” in Europe for meatless patties.
As a result of the launch, Burger King has become the biggest restaurant chain offering a plant-based patty across Europe. “More people are shifting to flexitarian diets worldwide, and with this partnership Unilever is accelerating its strategy to expand its portfolio of plant-based foods, ” Unilever stated in a press release. Flexitarians eat vegetarian or vegan foods, but also still eat meat on occasion.
Jaap Korteweg, founder of The Vegetarian Butcher and a ninth generation farmer said when he started The Vegetarian Butcher nine years ago, his goal was to be the biggest butcher in the world. “[My ambition is] to create products for meat lovers, with the ambition of providing the same taste and experience, but plant-based. Working with Burger King on the Rebel Whopper has been amazing, and we can’t wait for all Burger King guests to enjoy it,” he said.
Hanneke Faber, president Unilever Foods & Refreshment, was also enthusiastic. “Less than a year after acquiring The Vegetarian Butcher in the Netherlands, we are excited to partner with the iconic Burger King brand across Europe. The new Rebel Whopper powered by The Vegetarian Butcher offers meat lovers a fabulous meat-free experience; and we can’t wait start to realizing founder Jaap Korteweg’s dream of becoming the largest butcher in the world,” he said.
The Rebel Whopper is roughly the same in calories as a standard meat Whopper, and should be about the same price, though pricing is up to the operators on the local markets.
Unilever has also been expanding into the dairy and egg free market with Hellmann’s vegan mayonaisse, and dairy-free ice cream under the Magnum and Ben and Jerry’s labels.
Fast food rival giant McDonald’s has launched meatless burgers in Germany, using patties from Nestle, but has not yet expanded to other European markets.