More famous for his fast pace on the race tracks than for his diet, multiple F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has just opened the first of a new chain of meat substitute burger bars, in London. By James Teo.
Regent Street, London. September 2019. Driven by a belief in his meat free own diet, world champion car driver Lewis Hamilton has just raced into the fast food business with a central London burger bar called Neat Burger, offering plant-based but meaty-tasting burgers to the Regent Street crowd.
"I'm very passionate about being kinder to our world and also really respect Neat Burger's commitment to more ethical practices … so this is something I'm also really proud to support," said Hamilton at the launch.
The outlet uses Beyond Meat vegetable-based meat substitute in its range, offering a highly realistic meat-like patty made from vegetable ingredients including peas, mung beans, rice, coconut oil, potato starch, and beet. Hamilton’s team say the result is better both for human health and for the environment too; something that most sustainable vegans would agree with.
Investors and collaborators in the venture include ethical real estate organisation The Cream Group and UNICEF Ambassador and yacht broker Tommaso Chiabra. They have come on board more for the appeal of the vegetarian ingredients rather than to make a quick pitstop and sell out, it would seem. They describe Neat Burger as the first plant-based sustainable burger chain of its kind.
Hamilton’s new venture claims it will ‘transform the way people see plant-based food’ by appealing to everybody, not just the vegan crowd. “It’s for … any individuals, meat-eaters included, who want to eat delicious meat-free dishes that are more sustainable, healthier and ethical,” say the spokespeople. Neat Burger has also mentioned ambitious plans to expand the concept globally, with 14 franchises planned over the next two years once the concept is proven in London.
The outlet will offer three plant-based patties, 'The Neat', 'The Cheese' and 'The Chick'n', as well as 'The Hot Dog', all with sides including skinny fries, sweet potato fries and tater tots packed into recyclable containers. No mention of a drive in takeaway as yet, but if there is you can bet it will be super-quick service. The staff say they will serve orders within two minutes of diners sitting down, anyway. And good for the planet too, apparently.
"The meat industry is the biggest contributor to greenhouse emissions and its environmental impact is no longer sustainable,” said Chiabra at the launch. “Neat Burger aims to disrupt the non-sustainable (fast) food industry and become a force for good."
And that’s not all hot exhaust. Apparently the ‘meat’ used by Neat Burger uses 99% less water, 93% less land, and nearly 50% less energy than an equivalent on-the-hoof burger does. The manufacturers also claim it leads to 90% fewer ‘greenhouse grass’ emissions (we think that is in the form of methane, or cow farts) to produce than a bloody beef burger. The makers use a complex protein and fat braiding process to mix the vegetable ingredients and replicate the basic architecture, texture and meat flavour. One that ‘carnivores know and crave.’
Hamilton’s new burger bar will also offer Just Water, an eco-conscious brand that uses a ‘reliably plentiful’ source with naturally occurring mineral and PH content that it supplies in plant-derived cartons, giving a 74% reduction in carbon emissions compared to a plastic water bottle. Slick stuff. And for those with a sweet tooth, the bar will also have ethical sodas and dairy-free, soft serve, coconut and soya-based milkshakes.
“But it is also about the product,” adds Hamilton. “As someone who follows a plant-based diet, I believe we need a healthier high street option that tastes amazing but also offers something exiting to those who want to be meat-free every now and again.”
Race down to Regent Street and fill up with NeatBurger before the rest of the pack catches up.