We are entering a golden era for plant-based burgers, if there is such a thing. There are more options than ever, and new recipes from the likes Impossible and Beyond Meat are so good at replicating meat there’s almost no need to eat a traditional burger anymore. As a result of all this new choice and innovation, sales of plant-based meat is skyrocketing, so now seems like an opportune time for restaurant VeganBurg to expand its operations.
VeganBurg has been serving up plant-based burgers since 2010, which is pretty old school for a restaurant, given that plant-based burger technology has only really taken off in the past couple of years. “People were hesitant back in 2010,” VeganBurg Founder and CEO, Alex Tan told me by phone, crediting the likes of Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCaprio (both of whom are investors in plant-based meat) with swaying public opinion.
The VeganBurg burger is made from soy protein, using a “proprietary technology” to mimic the texture of meat. We haven’t had a chance to try it, but given that the company’s Singapore location has been around for almost ten years, and its San Francisco location launched back in 2016, there are obviously enough customers to keep the lights on.
The entire menu at VeganBurg is, well, vegan. Vegan cheese, vegan eggs, vegan bacon. In addition to “beef” burgers, the Singapore location also offers a soy-based fish and chicken patties, as well as a Krab burger made from konjac, a root vegetable common to Asian cuisine. Konjac is also used by Sophie’s Kitchen to make their fake “toona.”
VeganBurg is self-funded and Tan said that the company is now looking to add five locations across the Bay Area that will include a mix of corporate and franchise locations. I asked Tan about the role of delivery in his operations and he said that 30 percent of VeganBurg’s business is now delivery.
With the aforementioned rise in plant-based meat (and chicken), VeganBurg seems to be striking while the iron is hot. However, the iron being hot means increased competition for VeganBurg from existing players like Carl’s Jr. who are jumping on the fake meat train as well by offering Beyond Meat burgers. With veganism no longer a niche, VeganBurg will need to invest to carve out its plant-based place in the restaurant world.