The Myth of the Veggie Burger

Last night I had a very mediocre veggie burger among very high-end conversation and companionship at Townhouse in Birmingham. My companions – Monica Mercer, Mary Griffin and Mara Moss – are favorite friends and talented women who just overflow with life and enthusiasm and I love being around them.

Three of us ordered the veggie burger – when really, I was eyeing the short rib pierogies.

But middle-age spread has cautioned me away from eating such rich and indulgent foods. So I looked at the build-your-own salad (when I build a salad, I like green peas in it and they didn’t offer that) and I looked at the fish entrees but I settled on the veggie burger because a) my friend Mara said it’s her favorite thing on the menu and b) the combination of brown rice and black beans sounded like a sure win for my health and figure.

It was boring. It was bland. It was dry. I asked for ketchup (I hate ketchup!) just to sauce it up. The guacamole spread seemed as if to vanish into the bun. And for someone who’s been going gluten-free to rally with my little boy the mere presence of the bun was off-putting in itself – so much dough! So heavy!

The food really wasn’t the reason I was there anyway, and I wasn’t so hungry as to in any way be harmed by a less-than-pleasing dinner choice.

I paid my bill. I laughed many times with my friends. The hugs at departure left a permanent impression in my heart.

But the experience with the restaurant left me wanting. Will I return there? I might, if I can bring myself to order truly what I want to eat on a night out rather than what I should eat.

From where I sit, the restaurant has no perspective on this – but as a business it should. I was their paying customer and I had a less than satisfying experience of their business. The waiter had no clue of my dissatisfaction with the dish. Heck, he couldn’t even remember to bring Mary’s gnocchi! (And they didn’t do anything for her except whine some apologies while we waited for her dish to arrive.)

As a public relations professional who guides business owners on the experience that they sell, you can bet I’d have a few pieces of advice for the restaurateur.

It’s not worth it to pursue that conversation of course. But here are my universal takeaways:

* We really are heart-centered beings. If someone had appealed to my desire to eat something else, I might well have left happy.

* The tug-of-war between should and want is a tough one and if any business can help a person live according to their true desire, they will surely win.

* Dare to be different – a veggie burger is not a natural thing. Nobody really wants a veggie burger. When someone orders a veggie burger, it’s the safe choice to satisfy the true desire, which is to sink their teeth into a juicy, oozing burger – all blood and meat and cheese and stuff which we are not supposed to eat if we want to

live a long life. Take the veggie burger off the menu. Sell what people want.

This morning for breakfast, I sauteed some spinach from the farmer’s market and cooked two eggs (also from the farmer’s market) sunny side up with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and pepper for flavor. Healthy. Delicious, yes, but the good choice for my well-being.

If I had eaten breakfast out, you can be sure there would’ve been pancakes involved.

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