Comfort eating has long walked hand in hand with convenience, with multiple fast-food chains satisfying our need to indulge in a mouth-watering meal from time to time.
But as Aussies’ taste-buds evolve, with one in three of us reportedly limiting red meat consumption on a regular basis, Hungry Jack’s has added a side of “consciousness” to its classic range of flame-grilled Whoppers.
The fast-food institution has created the “Fresh Choices” range, responding to the increase in Australians opting to reduce their carbohydrate intake.
Available from Tuesday, the line includes four low-carb burger options, two salads and chicken wrap alternatives, in addition to the company’s vegan Cheeseburger and plant-based Rebel Whopper.
Hungry Jack’s CEO Chris Green explains the fast food institution has followed a process of ‘up-cycling’ its menu to cater to diversifying dietary requirements with classic, familiar flavours.
“Traditionally we’ve been seen as providing big, blokey burgers, but our newer options over the past few years have bought in people who normally wouldn’t shop at any quick service restaurant,” he tells 9Honey.
While Hungry Jack’s has been a leader in the past for plant-based alternatives, the menu emerges in a saturated fast-food market many committed vegetarians and vegans are sceptical of.
Issues of cross-contamination in the cooking process, with plant-based products cooked on the same surfaces as meat, has seen major companies come under fire in recent years, raising the question of whether they can viably guarantee the integrity of the product’s dietary promise.
The McDonald’s McVeggie burger came under close scrutiny when the company claimed the burger was not strictly vegetarian due to its cooking process.
For Hungry Jack’s fans curious about whether the company’s famous smokey taste will linger in the new products, Mr Green adds: “It’s all the patty, the cheese, the salad you’d expect, but without the guilt of so much bread.”
“We wanted to maintain the authenticity of our classic burgers, and built them as similarly to the originals, with a slight twist to offer that familiar, but unique point of difference.”
Mr Green says there was an 18-month trial and error process taken to create the new burgers.
He hopes this will appeal to people of all dietary backgrounds, with the move toward “flexitarianism” encouraging the company to diversify its menu options.
“There’s a growing trend right across Australia not to be completely meat-free, but indulge in a flexitarian diet and opt for the meat-free meal,” Mr Green said.
“We’re about giving more people the option to consume.”