Picture a juicy seared burger, mac and cheese, short rib, and smoky barbecue sauce, sandwiched on a soft bun. But it’s all vegan. Dubbed the “Vegan Mac Daddy,” it’s the plant-based meat behemoth that restaurant Dirty Bones will premiere at its London and Oxford locations this June.
The base of this head-turner is the vegan B12 Burger by Moving Mountains. It’s made from coconut oil, wheat, soy, potatoes, mushrooms and beet juice, which makes the patty appear to “bleed” when you cut into it. According to Moving Mountains Founder Simeon Van der Molen, their product is “the UK’s first ever raw bleeding plant-based meat burger.”
The patty has 20 grams of protein, no cholesterol, and low saturated fat, but is on-par with beef in terms of protein. As its name suggests, the B12 burger is also fortified with B12, a vitamin that can be hard to get in a meat-free diet.
Moving Mountains launched their burger at vegetarian London chain Mildred’s earlier this year, but when they premier at Dirty Bones this June it will be the first time their patty will grace the menu of a restaurant that also serves meat dishes. The Vegan Mac Daddy will be £12 ($16), which is just £1 more expensive than its meaty alter-ego.
While I certainly wouldn’t mind taking a taste of this burger (and maybe I will when I head to the U.K. after Smart Kitchen Summit Europe!), the most interesting part about the B12 Burger isn’t the burger itself, but how long it took to get here. And by here, I mean the U.K.
After all, we in the U.S. have two options for plant-based burgers meant to mimic the look and feel of beef: Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Moving Mountains’ burger is the first attempt in the U.K. to make a plant-based product that’s marketed not just at vegetarians, but also at meat-eaters and flexitarians.
The recent arrivalof a meaty vegan burger is pretty surprising considering London was named the most vegetarian-friendly city by PETA and has over 3.5 million vegans. A recent study from Kantar Worldpanel showed that 29% of evening meals in the U.K. don’t contain any meat.
While I lived there I came to expect a vegetarian option — in fact, a good vegetarian option — at every burger joint and cafe, no matter how meat-focused. Which is not always the case in the U.S.
Perhaps it’s because of these omnipresent veg options (often built around halloumi, the most delicious substance on the planet Earth) that the U.K. has been slow to hop on the meat-like vegan burger train. Though the B12 Burger’s positive reception at Mildred’s shows that there’s certainly a market for it, though it’s still so new that it’s mostly a novelty.
Part of this delay is just timing. Founder Simeon Van Der Molen told the Spoon that the idea for Moving Mountains formed in 2016, after he “recognized a restriction on the impact we can have on the environment and animal agriculture,” and then decided to create an “innovative plant-based food product that could affect positive change for public health and the planet by reducing animal meat consumption.”
After he had the idea, it took Van Der Molen and his team two years in a lab working with a team of scientists, chefs and farmers to nail the formula — they went through 100 recipes before they settled on a final one. They wanted to get a burger that, in Van Der Molen’s words, “replicates animal meat in every way, from the sizzle and texture to the taste.”
It seems like Moving Mountains may have hit the market just in time. Beyond Meat announced that it was planning to start selling their burgers in the U.K. by the end of 2018. In fact, the Guardian reported that Beyond Meat was rumored to have a deal with British supermarket Tesco to bring their burgers across the pond by July of this year.
As of now Moving Mountains is only available at a handful of restaurants in London and Brighton. If Beyond Meat does indeed make it to the U.K., we’ll see if there’s enough room for two meat-like meatless burgers in the ever-growing British flexitarian market.