By Stacey Wang, Correspondent
I attempted a vegetarian diet once.
I, equipped with an arsenal of fork and asparagus, battled against the meat-packed artillery of Chinese cuisine.
The struggle lasted five months before I realized that meat and I had a special bond. I loved it too much to part ways. And yes, the pork steamed buns won.
Ever since, I have sought vegetarian dishes, looking for foods that could pry me from my meat dependence.
That’s when I came across Orean’s Health Express, a vegetarian fast-food and drive-through, on 817 N. Lake Ave. in Pasadena.
Orean’s is quaint, and almost buried by surrounding restaurants like Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, Burger King and Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles.
With only a few outside seating areas, it is a casual eatery where you can gather with a few friends.
The eatery prides itself on being a healthy fast-food establishment. Its menu has been approved by the American Heart Association with an extensive list of options.
Although some items such as the teriyaki chicken burrito have “meat” in the name, the entire menu is meat-free.
My first hesitant visit resulted in staring at the menu for 15 minutes with occasional glances at the burger banner across the street at McDonald’s.
I resisted my urge to run across and buy a Filet-O-Fish. Instead, I ordered an Orean Salad Burger, the menu’s “ultimate veggie burger,” and a cappuccino Super Shake.
The Salad Burger, at $4.29 plus tax, had a veggie-friendly patty, organic sprouts, tomatoes onions and a special sauce on a whole wheat bun. The slightly sweet sauce melded well with the patty, which was a mix of veggies, sunflower seeds and black beans.
Finishing my burger, I was a little proud that I picked such a tasty one. It hit all of the points a burger should and has sparked my quest to find veggie burgers up to par.
My shake, priced at $2.85 plus tax, was a thick and creamy cappuccino soymilk shake. It was as filling and scrumptious as a milk shake, but left me feeling guilt-free about finishing it.
Orean’s may not seem like the ideal lunch for the average meat-loving, greasy burger-eater. But it does have satisfying menu items.
To complete a meal, Air Fries can be added for $2.79 plus tax or a Peach Cranberry Honey Granola Cobbler for the same price.
Every item on the menu is priced under $6, and portions keep the average person content for under $10.
However, not every item appeals to everyone. Depending on the individual, these veggie alternatives can be a gratifying hit or a taste bud-thrashing miss.