We need to talk. I’ll just cut to the chase because I don’t want to waste anyone’s time.
As a vegan, I think I can speak for all of us when I say we’re beginning to feel a little used. We’ve been trying to get your attention for years and now, all of the sudden, captured it with our burgers, but your interest in us is so damn specific.
Don’t get me wrong: We are delighted to the point of being cartoonishly overjoyed that you like us now, or at least our reformulated veggie burgers. You may remember that we tried to hook you on our virtuous veggie-and-bean mash patties for years but somehow, you weren’t having it. You either made fun of them or they were invisible to you. I get it. Those 1.0 burgers were “Good Sandy” from Grease and you weren’t interested.
These early burgers weren’t a good time. They were a little too saintly. They fell into the grill grates. They were a little too dry or they were way too mushy. Some could best be described as “beany.” They weren’t fashionable or cool. Granted, as soon as food scientists cracked the code for making plant burgers taste much meatier, some of you all had to be concerned about ingredients suddenly and all “But are they healthy???” about it — just like people probably clutched their pearls around “Bad Sandy” once she made her transformation — and, honestly, it’s super-duper annoying because we tried for 40 years or so to get your attention to no avail with our pious patties but I will leave it alone. You didn’t want Good Sandy; you wanted Bad Sandy all along. No shame, it’s just a fact.
Our new burgers have taken off to the point where investors in big food companies are getting mighty prickly if the brands they’ve invested in don’t have a plan for competing in the plant-based protein market. Who can blame them? Adding plant-based protein to a company’s portfolio is a smart choice and we know it’s not just herbivores eating them. It’s you guys! Here’s the rub, though: We can’t help but notice that while the number of people dipping their toes into the wild world of meat replacements is at a record high, credible sources and surveys say that the number of vegans has not really budged much, remaining stubbornly stagnant at between 1–2 percent of the U.S. population. It might seem like there are more…