The UK’s first bleeding burger was recently unveiled at a London-based restaurant, giving the visual effects of an entirely plant-based burger “bleeding” like meat. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t taken long for it to catch on. Iceland has now revealed they will be the first to sell a bleeding burger in a high-street supermarket. So while more places seem to be offering these meat-free alternatives, we have one question: Is this really what vegans want?
Bleeding burgers offer vegans the colour and texture of a meat burger. In Mildred’s, London, the burger is made from a combination of mushrooms, pea protein, soy, potato, coconut oil, beetroot, vitamin B12, herbs and spices. The ‘No Bull Burger’ in Iceland (just £2 for a two pack), which launches in April, is made using a soya bean base with beetroot powder to create the realistic “blood” colour. Neil Nugent, head chef at Iceland, said he tasted different textures and recipes in order to create the perfect no-meat meaty burger. “You’d really struggle to tell the difference,” he said.
We asked members of our HuffPost UK ‘Very Vegan’ Facebook community and interestingly, the feeling was very split. Those who have turned vegan recently - or for health reasons instead of the environmental - seemed to welcome the idea.
Rachael Cochlin, 32, from South Wales, who has been vegan since December 2017, opted to go meat and dairy free for health reasons and to reduce her impact on the environment. Despite understanding the “bleeding” aspect of meat-free food may not appeal to everyone, Rachael is all for it. She used to enjoy a burger in her omnivorous days. “If there is a way to replicate that experience, without the sacrifice of another living being, and without the health risks that comes with eating animal flesh, it’s a thumbs up,” she said. “I have tried many of the meat replacement products on the market and have enjoyed most of them.”
Similarly, Alison Preston feels it is products like these that make being a vegan more accessible and also makes feeding her meat-eating husband at dinner easier as they can both eat the same thing, with little hassle and it still be tasty.
Other new vegans felt “anything that resembles meat is a plus” as it helps the transition stage when trying to find vegan alternatives. “I’d love to try it,” said Lucy Futcher-Batty. “I always like the taste and familiarity of meat substitutes. Even vegans who wouldn’t eat it should support this, as it may be the key to saving millions of animals and the eco system.”
Others couldn’t think of anything worse, with many calling it “revolting”. Those against the burgers all had a similar opinion: “I don’t eat meat that bleeds, so why would I eat a vegan burger that bleeds?”
Esther James, 38, from Bristol, who has been vegan since January this year said bleeding burgers “sound disgusting” and she won’t be trying them. She wouldn’t have eaten beef burgers “bloody” when she was a meat-eater, so she’s not about to start now. “I do eat meat substitute products like Quorn, but replicating blood in a food product seems extreme,” she said. “That said I wouldn’t stop other people from eating bleeding burgers.”
Paul Hay agreed: “Plants don’t bleed, animals do. Do we vegans want to be reminded of pain inflicted on animals by consuming something like this? Revolting, I say.”
Despite not wanting to eat the burgers themselves, some people believed that these burgers could make transition easier for people.
And Elanor McBay agreed that while she thinks the bleeding aspect is more of a novelty thing, if it inspires more people to try vegan food then she’s happy for others to eat them, “If it encourages meat-eaters to go vegan, that’s great.” Similarly, Abbie Bolt said while the bleeding aspect is a “bit unnecessary”, she thinks they’re great for encouraging people to try vegan food and come around to the idea that vegans don’t just eat twigs and leaves.
What do you think about the bleeding burger phenomenon? Would you try one? Get involved in the conversation on our Very Vegan Facebook group.