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Meatless Market

Where's the beef?

Well, it's good news for cows. That's one way to view the growing mainstream acceptance of veggie burgers--a menu item that used to trigger much opposition (if not outright disdain) from legions of hamburger-loving Americans who questioned the very idea of beefing down the quintessential national food.

So much for that particular line of reasoning. Led by such industry stalwarts as Portland-based Gardenburger Inc.--well known for buying advertising time during the final episode of "Seinfeld"--the push to strip veggie burgers of their cult status is heating up.

How so? With an estimated 5 percent of the U.S. population claiming to eat meat-free diets, rumors abound that one or more of the fast-food hamburger chains is considering offering veggie alternatives. On the grocery-store front, burgeoning vegetarian frozen-food sections are wowing at-home diners not only with Gardenburger patties, but with Harvest Burgers and other vegetarian brands as well. Want a slice of the action? Include meatless burgers on the menu of your own eatery--or risk causing patrons to, um, have a cow.

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This article was originally published in the February 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Meatless Market.

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