BEYOND MEAT’S BEYOND SAUSAGE – BEAT ON THE BRAT. PLANT-BASED DREAMS DO COME TRUE

beyond meat beyond sausage
Hi, Pathetically

I remember when Beyond Meat and Impossible Burgers were far-off Instagram fantasy posts by U.S. vegan celebs. They seemed unreal. Like “liquid smoke” and Field Roast sausages. Nice, in theory. But too fantastical to ever imagine cooking at home. Then I remembered it’s 2019. And plant-based dreams do come true. Every week.

Recently, Tesco beefed up its vegan meat options BIG time. Adding new plant-based sections in superstores across the country. And two of the stars of the show are chilled (not frozen) Beyond Burger patties and the, until very recently, fabled Beyond Sausage.

A couple weeks ago, Lewis Hamilton’s new restaurant, Neat Burger, became the first vegan burger joint in the U.K. to add Beyond Sausage to the menu. Halo Burger soon followed. And now here we are. Beyond Sausage. In Tescos. In my kitchen. Ready to go.

Until now, finding convincing plant-based sausage alternatives has been hit or miss. And mostly miss. Sainsbury’s has a good mushroom-based chorizo option. Heck’s Bollywood Bangers are tasty, but very plant-based. Fry’s Smoked Hot Dogs are decent, when dressed properly. And that’s about it, really. Tofurky? No worky.

The Beyond Sausage, on the other hand, is a proper game changer. It tastes just like the real thing. Not a strip of spiced cauliflower and pulses, or a chorizo-flavoured shroomdog. When I tried Neat Burger’s Neat Sausage I literally could not believe it. The Beyond Sausage tastes like an actual grilled beef sausage. Like South African boerewors.

The first time I cooked them at home I kept things simple. Rolls. Mustard. Ketchup. Fried onions. But the second time I went all out. I made a caramelised onion and balsamic vinegar gravy. A creamy potato root mash. And grilled the sausages like bangers. It was incredible. A new permanent addition to my weekly cooking rota.

NEAT BURGER – LEWIS HAMILTON GOES FOR A VEGAN JUNK FOOD PODIUM FINISH

Hi, Pathetically

When I heard Lewis Hamilton was partnering and brand-ambassadoring a new London vegan burger joint called Neat Burger, I didn’t take much notice at first. I assumed he was just some billionaire celebrity jumping on the Beyond Meat, plant-based burger bandwagon. Then I checked out his Instagram profile.

I’m sure there are contradictions. I can’t imagine being the highest-paid Formula 1 driver in the world. Posting tributes to PETA-fighting, fur-loving fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. And jetting and driving all over the world. Non-stop. In all kinds of gas-guzzling luxury vehicles is in line with Neat Burger’s “one step at a time,” “clean green” mission to save the world. Can you?

I mean, are all his cars vegan? Is his racing gear vegan? Was his private jet vegan? Is this leather-looking armchair vegan? Is the champagne he sprays in people’s faces vegan? I doubt it, but I’d love to know.

I was shocked, however, to discover that Hamilton does eat vegan. That he “loves animals.” And that in-between selfies, model shots and luxury cars, his Instagram feed’s peppered with graphic, “sensitive content” animal cruelty.

So at least that’s a positively provocative message to send to his 13.1 million followers. Also, in partnership with California-based charity Eden Reforestation Projects, Neat Burger aims to plant a tree for every burger sold. And if they keep selling out of burgers, that’s a lot of trees.

Vegan politics aside, the burgers are ridiculously tasty. Neat Burger doesn’t seem to make anything themselves, however. Just curate, decorate and inundate. The “beef” burgers are Beyond Meat. The “chicken” burgers are THIS. And the hot dogs are Beyond Sausage.

neat burger beyond sausage london
Hi, Pathetically

I ordered the Chick’n Burger, which features a THIS Isn’t Chicken Southern style patty, lettuce and vegan mayo. And you bet I made it cheesy for a Pound extra. Also, I had to try the Neat Sausage; Beyond Sausage, grilled onions, fried shallots, mustard, ketchup, pickles and mayo.

The vegan chicken burger’s amazing. Almost too convincing. The Southern fried patty is just so good. So perfect. That it makes the real thing unnecessarily cruel and obsolete. And the cheese is just so gooey and lavish. I have had THIS’ tikka pieces and nuggets before, but this THIS is next level THIS. Try one. It’ll blow your mind.

The Beyond Sausage hot dog is just stupefying. Breathtaking, even. The sausage itself tastes so beefy. So meaty. It reminds me of South African boerewors. Or the gourmet beef sausages my dad used to serve with mustard and ketchup. It’s definitely the best vegan sausage I’ve ever tasted. And hence the best vegan hot dog.

The great thing about Neat Burger, besides the food, is Lewis Hamilton’s reach. He’s one cool dude. And he speaks directly to millions of people, worldwide, who otherwise might not be as open to going plant-based. Even just once. Because if you try Neat Burger you’re hooked. It’s that good. And it’s bound to open your eyes to even more of the innovative meat-free options out there.

So far there’s only one store. So maybe it’s a bit premature to call Neat Burger a chain. But something tells me it’s just a matter of time. Also, theoretically, there’s going to be a lot more trees in the world as well. And that’s awesome.

Address: 4 Princes St, Mayfair, London W1B 2LE

THE BEYOND MEAT BEYOND BURGER – BEYOND FAST FOOD. BEYOND TAKEAWAY. IN YOUR KITCHEN

Hi, Pathetically

I remember when Beyond Meat first launched the Beyond Burger in the U.K. Before mega-chains like Honest Burgers, Byron and BrewDog were serving them on tap the patties were meant to be available at Tesco stores across London. I looked for them. A lot. Months apart. At several jumbo stores. But I never found any*.

So Beyond Burgers became a novelty. A mysterious treat I enjoyed at dreamy joints like Halo Burger, Vurger and Co., and most recently, Neat Burger. Until I found a pack of two in Whole Foods, Piccadilly Circus’ frozen vegetarian section and kicked down that vegan fourth wall, with added Follow Your Heart Pepper Jack cheese slices and SGAIA’S Streaky Mheat Rashers. Burger night would never be the same again.

I couldn’t believe it. In my own kitchen. The packaging looked so unassuming. Like I’d bought any old Vivera, Linda McCartney, supermarket brand “soy protein” burgers. Not Beyond Burgers. Not the real, “bleeding-vegan” deal.

“Made from plants. Soy free. Gluten free.” So what is it? Pea protein, expeller-pressed canola oil and refined coconut oil. Mostly. Plus “two percent” or less experimental vegan science like bamboo cellulose, vegetable glycerine and methylcellulose (and a bunch of extracts, acids and other things you’d probably rather not know too much about).

Still, in moderation, Beyond Burgers are meant to be healthier than processed beef. And of course, ethically and environmentally there’s no comparison. If meat is murder (and it is), Beyond Meat is a life saver. Interestingly, although they’re processed, some nutritionists don’t even classify the patties as junk food. Either way, one thing I’ve never had is the vegan meat sweats.

Just like any regular beef burger, you have to know what you’re doing when it comes to cooking Beyond Burgers. You can’t just throw them on the pan, poke them around a bit and hope for the best. Just ask Honest Burgers. There’s an art to a good Beyond Burger.

Hi, Pathetically

As someone who liked his burgers medium to well-done, I like to cook my vegan burgers more or less the same. And even then, there’s an art. Between overcooking and drying it out and cooking it just right, so it’s not bloody but it’s still juicy and full of flavour. And let me tell you, I nailed it.

Just before serving I fried up my vegan rashers, laid my cheese slices on my patties under the grill and dressed my bun with lettuce, vegan mayo, sriracha mayo, ketchup, mustard and pickles. Then I popped the melted cheese-topped patties on the lettuce side of the buns, crossed two bacon strips over them and neatly positioned the sauce side of the bun on top. I was in vegan burger heaven. Not quite Halo Burger good. But way better than Honest Burgers. So a winning start, really…

* looks like the burgers are available from Tesco online. But who buys groceries online, right?

BYRON’S CHEEKY TRUFFLER – PROPER HAMBURGERS ARE NOW VEGAN TOO

byron burger vegan truffler special
Hi, Pathetically

These days everyone’s getting in on the act. Shit, even the Colonel and Ronald McDonald have dipped their blood-stained toes in the new vegan money stream. As a result, mushroom and falafel burgers are out and vegan fast food standards are higher than Woody Harrelson at Christmas. Refreshingly, “proper hamburger” joint Byron didn’t pull any flavour punches with their new Truffler special.

The coolest thing is there’s a poster for the burger in the front window of Byron, Shoreditch. The Truffler is front and center, not some obscure sub-note buried on the menu. It’s Byron’s star of the month. And it definitely sounds like a headliner; Beyond Meat patty, truffle ‘cheese’ fondue, mushrooms, truffle mayonnaise, pickled red onions, mustard and crispy onions.

I’m a sucker for anything truffle-related. And truffle fondue is an amazing idea for a cheese alternative vegan burger topping. Throw in mushrooms and truffle mayonnaise and forget about it. Every bite’s too much. Rich, decadent and wickedly moreish. Before you even touch the Beyond Meat patty – which carries the gooey puddle of flavour like a plant-based burger champ. The mustard and pickled onions add the zing and I’m in vegan burger heaven.

My only criticism is it wasn’t cheesey and saucy enough. I could have done with more fondue. More truffle mayonnaise. But I’ll chalk it up to a stiff-wristed sauce squirter and definitely order it again next time.

TASTE THE RAINBOW – BREWDOG’S COLOURFUL NEW VEGAN BURGER GOES ABOVE AND BEYOND

Hi, Pathetically

You know you’re witnessing the early stages of a full-blown vegan revolution when Brewdog’s hosting sold out beer and cheese pairing nights, with vegan cheese. The “fiercely independent” – albeit with its own private plane – craft beer chain even does 2-4-1 half-price veggie and vegan mains every Monday. And their jazzed up Born to Live burger might just be the best dressed Beyond Meat patty in town.

Recently, I tried Honest Burgers’ Beyond Meat Plant burger. But to be honest, I found it dry and uninspired. Emphasising just how important it is to put a Beyond Meat burger together with the same kind of love and consideration you would any other. You’ve got to know what you’re doing.

Even if you keep things simple, it’s all about the right complementary flavours. The right sauce. The best cheese. The right attention to detail. And a few signature moves to really make that burger sing. It can’t just be a forced-seeming afterthought, because enough people asked for a vegan option.

Enter the Born to Live burger. A crazy work of technicolour art featuring a juicy Beyond Meat patty, roasted red peppers, a creamy vegan chipotle slaw, vegan gouda and pickles, on a scarlet-red beetroot brioche bun that looks like it was baked by Willy Wonka.

The burger was originally launched in January, as an exciting new option for those dabbling in Veganuary. And it’s still on the menu now, almost five months later – at least, it is at Brewdog Tower Hill. It’s just been rebranded, and is now simply known as the Beyond Meat Burger. But trust me. It’s the real deal.

A Beyond Meat patty on a vegan junk food rainbow. The smoky, soft texture of roasted red pepper. The rich, gooey, perfectly melted vegan gouda. And the creamy, Mexican-style spicy chipotle slaw. I was skeptical of the gimmicky, OTT-seeming bun at first. Mainly because I’m not a big fan of beetroot. But, I’m happy to report, it’s sweet and fluffy and the beetroot taste is subtle to non-existent.

According to Brewdog the burger goes well with Punk IPAs. But honestly, who the hell drinks Punk IPAs at Brewdog. So I paired mine with Hazy Janes. Lots of Hazy Janes…

Address: 21 Great Tower St, London EC3R 5AR

HALO BURGER – PROPER MELTY FAST FOOD BURGERS WITH NONE OF THE MURDER (AND ALL OF THE GOOEY CHEESE)

halo burger vegan cheese burger
Hi, Pathetically

I used to think all Beyond Meat burgers were created equal. But they’re not. It’s all about how you cook them. And dress them. And serve them. And Brixton-based Halo Burger know exactly what they’re doing. In fact, this 100% plant-based “bleeding burger joint” will fill that red and golden-arched, fast food-sized hole missing in your new, meat-free vegan lives.

To replicate that squish-in-your-hand, wish-you-had-another-one-now feel, Halo Burger reshape their Beyond Meat patties. Cutting and double-layering them in a moreish, Big Mac, Five Guys Double Bacon Cheeseburger kind of way. Most importantly, the non-dairy cheese is “hand steamed” on each half patty as well. Making sure the burgers are soft, gooey and delectable – and disappear fast.

Everything’s right. The look. The flavour. The texture. The way the orange cheese melts and rehardens to the shape of the wrapper at the edges. It’s like an old In-N-Out Burger dream, without the guilt. And Halo Burger is the perfect plant-based replacement for your drive-thru, late-night, golden-hour burger needs.

Address: 49 Brixton Station Rd, Brixton, London SW9 8PQ