You think being a vegetarian or vegan means eating healthy. Generally it does. When you don’t eat meat or dairy, your options shrink to fruits, vegetables, legumes and cereals. You can’t really pig out on those items. That is why vegetarians and vegans are on average slimmer and have better cardiovascular health than their omnivorous counterparts. I base this assertion not only on personal experience but on the research of nutritional scientists. If you have got doubts, start looking into the work of Dr. T Colin Campbell or watch the documentary Forks over Knives. It is on Netflix.
Nevertheless I am a realist. Pigging out on fatty, greasy food may be bad for your health but it also feels good. It is honestly the thing that I miss most about eating meat. I have always been a fan of pitchers of beer accompanied by cheese sticks, French fries or hamburgers. You can find good vegetarian and vegan restaurants but the kind of food they serve just doesn’t hit the same spot as a diner or bar or fast food restaurant does. I have always thought that there is a real niche for vegetarian and vegan fast food, not only for vegetarians and vegans to grease out but also to show the omnivores that it can be done without meat.
In my desperation to find such an alternative in Santiago, I stumbled across the Facebook page of Vurger Joint. I was immediately filled with joy upon reading their menu, which includes the fast food staples: cheese sticks, french fries, hamburgers and onion rings. Many restaurants in Santiago now have a vegetarian burger options (to see some of these visit our series of Vegetarian Hamburgers on POUSTA.com) but it is usually just one or maximum two types. The menu of Vurger Joint is exclusively vegetarian, with the option to order anything vegan as well, and they offer five different preparations of burgers. In addition they deliver, which no other similar place does. So you can make the order, induce the munchies while you wait, and then chow down from the comfort of your own couch while watching Netflix. Nobody will be able to see you and judge.
I decided to get in contact with Vurger Joint to learn more about the project. The team consists of Thomas and Camila, who are owners and handle delivery, with Angela doing the cooking. They have been in operation since May 2016 but recently took a break, from January to March 2017, in order to improve the focus of the business. One of the changes to come out of their time off is the introduction of biodegrable packaging. They told us this derives from their belief that environmental consciousness goes hand in hand with avoiding animal suffering. In talking with them, they expressed a similar vision of offering vegetarian and vegan alternatives in the “fast food” market. In the future they plan to open a physical location that would be accessible to their clients, which are distributed across Santiago.
The POUSTA crew got a tasting delivered to our office which included almost their entire menu. We tried three of their hamburgers: the Simple, the Bacon and the Onion. The first is a traditional cheeseburger and we especially enjoyed their Salsa Vurger. The Bacon was my favorite as it includes veggie bacon and avocado. The Onion comes with a fried onion ring on the inside with BBQ sauce. It was also incredibly good. I had tried their burgers before but this was the first time that I tasted their Burrito Falafel. The falafel was crunchy, which is a requirement for me, and the sauce was creamy and complimented it all very well.
The highlight for the POUSTA crew was the fries, which came in two different versions. We had the Papas Vurger, which include Pico de Gallo and sour cream. This was the favorite of most of my co-workers. My personal favorite, however, were the Papas Bacon because that veggie bacon is incredible. We were also given Mozarrella sticks with vegan cheese. If Vurger Joint hadn’t told me they were vegan, I would not have guessed. And that is the best compliment you can give a vegan version of a traditionally non-vegan dish.
I recommend these guys to everybody and I purposefully include omnivores in that. Many meat eaters here at POUSTA tried the food and expressed interest in ordering from them in the future. They truly offer delicious food, not just delicious vegetarian food. Vurger Joint operates Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from 20:00 to 23:00. Their delivery map includes all of Providencia, Nuñoa, Peñalolen and La Reina as well as half of Santiago Centro, Las Condes and Macul.
McDonalds and Burger King, you better watch your backs!