Tera V Burger makes its fast food vegetarian in Vancouver
It’s immediately obvious that Tera V Burger isn’t like other fast-food joints. You won’t find burger patties made of ground beef, pink slime, or mystery fish here. Indeed, the menu board at Kitsilano’s newest vegetarian eatery encourages patrons: “Ask to make it vegan!”
Vancouver resident Jagmohan Basran opened Tera V on May 20 in a West Broadway space that previously housed a Jugo Juice. A former greeting-card–store owner from Kelowna, Basran became vegetarian several years ago. He soon got the idea to start a meatless restaurant that serves quick eats that are tasty enough to satisfy everyone from vegans to omnivores.
“A lot of meat eaters, when they think vegetarian, they think of salads and lighter fare that doesn’t really hit the spot,” Basran explained over the phone from Kitsilano’s Volunteer Park. “I want to change that.”
Tera V’s menu features a simple selection of burgers ($5.99 to $7.49), grilled sandwiches ($4.99 to $7.49), wraps ($4.99 to $5.99), salads ($7.89 to $7.99), and smoothies ($5.99). You can make your order a combo—with your choice of baked fries, baked yam fries, or a side green salad, plus a drink—for around $4 more.
There is no meat on the menu, and the Garden Burger is the only item that can’t be made vegan. Sadly, Tera V charges 30 cents to substitute Daiya dairy-free cheese for Cheddar cheese.
With seating for 13 people inside and two outside, the wheelchair-accessible, pay-at-the-counter restaurant has a warm, modern interior incorporating plenty of wood. A long, backlit photographic mural on one wall depicts the North Shore mountains and Burrard Inlet.
Three weeks after its opening, I visited Tera V for the first time. On Father’s Day, we strolled up to the counter and my partner and I, who are both vegan, ordered the vegan versions of the No Bull burger (a basic veggie burger) and barbecue tempeh burger combos—one with French fries, the other with yam fries. Grabbing a pair of Boylan cane-sugar sodas from the cooler (there’s also stevia-sweetened pop, organic juice and tea, coconut water, and bottled water available), we sat down at one of the tables for two to wait. This meal for two came to $22.34 before tax.
In no time at all, our food arrived. Served on whole-wheat buns with lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion, and Daiya Cheddar shreds, both the No Bull and tempeh burgers were pleasing and filling, but didn’t exceed what your typical vegan foodie might whip up at home. With a locally made soy-vegetable patty, ketchup, and Vegenaise eggless mayo on the No Bull, and a smoky sauce on the tempeh, the burgers cried out for that special touch to make them sing. None of Tera V’s patties are housemade. Plus all of the food was lukewarm—I like my fast food hot-hot-hot—and the cheese wasn’t melted.
A week later, the lentil panini combo and Asian Chik’n wrap also arrived quickly but lukewarm with unmelted cheese. Featuring Yves chicken veggie tenders and a soy-sesame sauce in a whole-wheat tortilla, the wrap was delicious but would have benefited from on-theme vegetables such as bean sprouts and scallions rather than the usual lettuce and tomato. The always-vegan lentil panini, however, hit the mark with its savoury lentil patty and creamy garlic-mustard sauce. Unfortunately, the whole-grain ciabatta bun only had a few grill marks.
We also ordered a mango orange smoothie (without the $1.99 Vega nutrient boost). Our helpful counterperson explained that the smoothies are sweetened with honey by default, but vegans can ask to substitute agave nectar at no extra charge. It was a refreshing change from some other vegetarian restaurants, where staff often don’t seem to care about or understand vegan concerns.
On my third visit, I took home a disappointing (by vegan standards, anyways) smoked tofu salad and an easily replicated at home grilled Tofurky sandwich in compostable, plant-based packaging. While I waited a long time for my order, the counterperson made up for it by apologizing and leaving two 15-percent-off discount cards in the takeout bag.
When I spoke to Basran, he reiterated that Tera V’s “biggest goal” is to get omnivores eating more vegetarian food in order to reduce animal cruelty, environmental degradation, and health problems. The 27-year-old restaurateur has dreams of transforming his new business into a worldwide chain of vegetarian fast-food joints. But, for now, he’s working on adding a raw burger, housemade patties, gluten-free options, and desserts to the menu.
“There’s seven billion people on the planet,” Basran said. “It’s no longer feasible to continue the way that we are consuming the resources that we do.”
Tera V certainly serves up reliable fast food, pleasant service, and a decent atmosphere. With some menu tweaking, this burger joint may eventually be ready to go up against the likes of McDonald’s.