Summer barbecues are filled with some amazing food. Fresh and local options abound from juicy watermelon to Quincy corn on the cob. For vegetarians like myself, barbecues with friends and family are really easy, since I can just bring my own veggie burger to throw on the grill.
A new veggie burger has become so popular that when the company, Beyond Meat, went public earlier this year, it had the best performing first-day IPO of any stock in nearly two decades. After its first day on the stock market, it was up 163% above its IPO price. Now, I’m somewhat clueless when it comes to the stock market and investing, but I know enough to know that that’s a pretty big deal. A big deal about “fake” meat!
Part of the reason Beyond Meat is getting so much attention is because this is a whole new kind of veggie burger. Past versions don’t try to hide the fact that they’re full of veggies, like a chipotle black bean burger. I think these are great in their own right, but they are quite different than the beef version we’re all used to. Beyond Burgers, however, were actually created to more closely replicate the real deal, complete with a little added beet juice to give them a pink center and the ability to almost “bleed.” They also have 20 grams of protein, similar to a beef burger of the same size. If you’re a real meat lover, you’re not going to be fooled. I wouldn’t recommend them to a big-time carnivore. But for someone like me who hasn’t had a real burger in years, I think it’s great. And if you’ve got an open mind and are interested in reducing your meat consumption for whatever reason, there’s a good chance you’ll like them too.
In the Wenatchee valley, there are lots of places you can find Beyond Meat. The burgers are actually in the meat section in most stores, right along with beef burger. You’ll find them in stores like Albertson’s, Fred Meyer and Safeway. They’re not cheap, at around $5.00 or $6.00 for two 1/4 pound patties. For a quick option, you can even order a Beyond Burger at Carl’s Jr in East Wenatchee.
Why would someone choose to avoid meat? For me, I made the decision after I learned of the environmental impacts of factory farming, especially it’s significant role in climate change. Yes, possibly one of the nerdiest reason to quit meat. After writing report on the effect of diet on a person's carbon footprint for my climate change class in grad school, I decided I'd try to go a year as a pescatarian - giving up "land animals" but still eating seafood, eggs and dairy. Just a few months in, I realized it wasn't that hard and I eventually gave up seafood as well.
A study from the University of Michigan found that the Beyond Burger requires 99% less water, 93% less land, produces 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and uses 46% less energy than a comparable beef burger. Other reasons for reducing or eliminating your meat consumption may include a concern for the animals themselves, or for your own health. Eating a lot of processed and red meat has been tied to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
While I decided to give it up entirely, I’m also a big proponent of others who just reduce their overall meat consumption. That can be taking part in “Meatless Mondays” or doing something like only eating meat on the weekends. In my opinion, it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. One of my favorite quotes from the influential vegan Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is "Don't do nothing because you can't do everything. Do something!" If you choose this option of eating less meat, you get to pick from really cool names like “flexitarian” or “reducetarian.” Welcome to the nerd club!