PSA: Hungry Jack’s Plant-Based Whopper Isn’t Actually Healthier For You

PSA: Hungry Jack’s Plant-Based Whopper Isn’t Actually Healthier For You
Image: Hungry Jacks

Hungry Jack’s is the first major fast food outlet in Australia to offer a plant-based version of its signature menu item. The oddly-named ‘Rebel Whopper’ is identical to a regular Whopper burger with one significant difference: the patty is entirely plant based.

However, it turns out that choosing the vegetarian option isn’t always healthier. Here’s how the nutritional info compares to the beef version.

Taste Test: Hungry Jack's Plant-Based Rebel Whopper

The Rebel Whopper is Hungry Jack's first stab at a plant-based burger for the Australian market. Made from a mixture of legumes and natural oils, it is being billed as a cruelty-free alternative to traditional meat. But how does it taste? Read on for our verdict!

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“0% beef but 100% Whopper taste.” That’s how Hungry Jack’s is marketing the Rebel Whopper – a new plant-based burger made in partnership with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the alternative meat start-up v2food.

The imitation “beef” patty derives its protein from legumes, fibre from plants and oils from sunflower and coconut. Unlike some plant-based meats, the product contains no genetically modified ingredients.

If Hungry Jack’s can be believed, the taste is virtually indistinguishable from the beef version. This is mainly down to the flame-grilled cooking process which imparts an identical smokey, BBQ flavour.

“In trials, the flavour profile of the 0% beef Rebel Whopper has stacked up brilliantly against the beef Whopper. It is very difficult to tell the difference,” Scott Baird, CMO of Hungry Jacks claimed.

In addition to the faux beef patty, the Rebel Whopper comes with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, pickles, mayo and tomato sauce on a toasted sesame seed bun. While technically animal-free, vegans are advised that the patties are cooked on the same grill as regular beef patties.

Nutrition breakdown

Hungry Jack’s isn’t marketing the Rebel Whopper as a healthier choice, but the implication is definitely there. After all, how can a plant-based burger be fattier than flame-grilled beef?

Here’s how the Rebel Whopper compares to the regular beef version, according to the nutritional info on Hungry Jack’s website.

Hungry Jack’s Rebel Whopper Hungry Jack’s Beef Whopper
Energy 2790 kj 2750 kj
Protein 26.1 g 28.3 g
Fat 38.0 g 39.3 g
Saturated fat 10.4 g 11.7 g
Carbs 52.2 g 47.9 g
Sugars 8.4 g 8.0 g
Sodium 1150 mg 837 mg

As you can see, the Rebel Whopper is actually slightly worse for you if you’re counting calories. It has a higher amount of kilojoules, sodium, sugar and carbohydrates than the beef version. It also contains less protein despite being roughly the same size. The beef whopper is higher in saturated fat, though (10.4g versus 11.7g.)

On the plus side, you’re not slaughtering an innocent cow to get your burger fix, which has to count for something. To its credit, Hungry Jack’s isn’t charging a premium either – it costs the same as a regular Whopper.

The Rebel Whopper is available now in all Australian states and territories. You can also order the burger online via Hungry Jack’s MenuLog page. Look out for a Lifehacker taste test, coming soon.

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  • I’m not sure that qualifies as “worse for you”. The 40 extra kj might be an issue if you’re counting calories – although if you are I would suspect that a) 40kj isn’t really going to make a significant difference and b) this is a cheat meal and you’re not going to care. The higher sodium might be an issue, although the only real difference between these that might be considered qualifying either as “worse for you” is the saturated fat, and the Rebel wins out on this one.

    A more accurate headline would be “PSA: Hungry Jack’s Plant-Based Whopper Isn’t Actually Any Better For You”

    • I’d argue the triple-whammy of more salt, sugars and carbs (plus a higher kJ count and less protein) makes the Rebel unhealthier. But I concede it’s subjective. Headline has been amended.

  • All in all they compare well until you get to the salt, and Jesus Christ why would they do that? Not to mention the amount of salt in regular patties, here’s my throw-away, don’t eat at Hungry Jack’s!

    • The reason for the higher additives like salt and sugar is as simple as the substrate they use to get the texture mouth feel correct does not have the right flavor, so add more flavor and you have a poor imitation that will absolutely have more negative health outcomes just let the human guinea pigs consume it for a few year and wait until the health cases appear to correlate with fake meat substitutes being a common factor….

      Not sure why there are so many people who deny there own existence, humans are adaptive apex predators, denying our evolution which it has more time adapted to, is going to end badly, name one higher order as in brain function animal that is not making its own omega 3’s that does not consume them from a form of meat ? protein and animal fats are why we get to be who we are, deny it at your peril.

      In all cases plants for the same nutrients ends up less bio-available / absorbed then the meat providing equivalent. so vegans as a rule are human kind deniers, and nutritional inefficiency promoters. the ethical argument of not killing denies our genetic disposition. all vegans better remove their canine teeth, and modify their digestive tracts to be better at fermenting, instead of putrefaction etc…

      • If they can make it healthy, I have no problems with vege substitutes or lab grown or insect based, it’s what is going to happen sooner rather than later. They will need to make it healthy though and this particular patty doesn’t pass muster.

      • meat requires less added salt, because it has it in every cell that makes up the meat, the fake meat, does not have the same benefit, so more added salt would be required to be equal.

        in allot of cases the bitterness from some plants is offset by added salt and sugar, if sugar offsets the bitterness, but leaves it sweeter then add more salt etc. just like people hiding bad odors by spraying more perfume, masking… is a bad practice.

  • The rebel whopper is amazing. I can’t believe it’s vegetarian! If this is the way of the future, maybe we CAN stop slaughtering/farming so many animals. This kind of thing is a huge step towards a better world. Also if it’s slightly better for weight gain than a beef whopper, it might be good for helping towards putting on weight.

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