Since opening in April, Honeybee Burger has served an all-vegan menu that includes burgers, fries, shakes and ice cream. Its founder Adam Weiss says they came up with the concept because they believed that serving burgers, particularly the iconic cheeseburger, would be an accessible way to appeal to American people. Honeybee Burger’s mission is more than to improve the health of its customers, he says, it is also to protect the planet, as well as the animals living in it. Speak Up met with Weiss. We began by asking him how the public has responded to the restaurant.
Adam Weiss (American accent): [It has been] Pretty exceptional. The local population is very passionate about not just plant-based but animal rights and so on, so we knew we’d do well locally. What we didn’t realise was we’d have customers driving in from twenty, thirty miles away. And in LA, that’s quite a thing! The press and media have embraced us. We’ve made a number of ‘Best Burger’ lists already, and not just ‘Plant-based Burger’ lists but ‘Best Burger’ lists.
BETTER THAN MEAT
Meatless burgers have existed for decades. We asked Weiss what made the Beyond and the Impossible Burger so popular.
Adam Weiss: The veggie burgers have been around forever, obviously, and to be fair, we’ve had them and they’re quite fine. Along came these two amazing companies, both California-based companies that consider themselves technology companies, by the way, with a deep understanding of technology. And their goal was to create a burger alternative that wasn’t just veggie or plant-based, but was superior to meat and, in fact, would be so good that it would allow meat eaters to not just prefer it but actually understand that cow and beef-based patties are not so great anymore.
Weiss then described the difference between the two.
Adam Weiss: They’re both really good. Impossible, when it first came out, was wheat-based, which means that it had gluten. It was quite good but wasn’t perfect. Impossible 2.0 is now a completely different product. It is now soy-based, for better or worse. It’s a wonderful product, customers love it. Beyond is entirely different. They too have gone through a few recipe changes but they are predominantly pea protein, and when I say pea, there’s a yellow pea or lentil, so it’s not the green peas that you have with your dinner. Nevertheless, it’s a very different mouth feel, different taste, and those are the primary differences in protein.
THE ENLIGHTENED CUSTOMER
So why would a meat-eater choose a plant-based burger instead?
Adam Weiss: Well, let’s admit we’re all meat-eaters at one point in our lives, for the most part. We were made to be omnivorous, although the new studies say that we’re predominantly herbivorous. But nevertheless, [for] meat-eaters who are thinking about the planet and the future, and if they have children, their children, I think it’s an easy decision if not to switch to plant-based burgers at least to swap them in and out every now and again. From a health perspective, I think there’s a lot of science behind consuming animal protein as far as the inflammatory effect on your body that plant-based burgers do not have. There’s no judgment here. I just think an enlightened customer over time will move to a plant-based diet.
IT WILL HAPPEN
And, Weiss said, while changing our eating habits might be difficult for many of us, it will become necessary.
Adam Weiss: If we’re talking about the States, it might be a little bit different than Europe generally. I think the States maybe move a little bit quicker but nevertheless I don’t know that we’ll ever replace beef. It’s part of our heritage, culture and history. I wish we could. We may have to replace it before we want to replace it just because the environmental stress is enormous. But if we were to price beef where it should be priced vis-à-vis the impact on health and on the environment, it would be $100 a pound, and all of a sudden you’d have to pay $30, $40 for a beef burger, I think it would go the way of the dodo bird. That said, there will be an inevitable shift away from beef consumption. It will happen.