#EATLIKESIMONANDMARIA

The biggest news in the burger world this week was the Andy Warhol advert which Burger King aired during this year’s Superbowl.

If you have not seen it, here is the original documentary footage which was edited down to the 30-second clip. It comes from the Danish filmmaker Jorgen Leth who recorded Warhol in 1981 for his art movie “66 Scenes from America” which was filmed.

While Burger King in their official commumications said that they were proud to take the risk in airing the footage in it’s purest form, they did take the opportunity to add the hash tag #EatLikeAndy.

While the advert did of course generate a huge amount of publicity for Burger King, and also for McDonald’s given that Warhol did express his disappointment that it wasn’t a McDonalds, time and our collective consciousness have changed since the early eighties.

Last year research was published which revealed the huge footprint of livestock, demonstrating how it provides 18% of calories but takes up 83% of farmland: Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth

It is interesting to note that this is not a call to remove meat entirely from our diets. The Guardian report quotes Dr Peter Alexander from the University of Edinburgh, UK who noted:

There may be environmental benefits, eg for biodiversity, from sustainably managed grazing and increasing animal product consumption may improve nutrition for some of the poorest globally. My personal opinion is we should interpret these results not as the need to become vegan overnight, but rather to moderate our [meat] consumption.

I like this as an approach and I myself do eat meat occasionally, and I never eat meat at home. So how best to encourage those who always eat meat to try non-meat options? The best way I feel is not to chastise or criticise people, but to offer something so incredible that the choice will be made naturally to choose this option.

What I wanted to do in this article is show two different ways in which BrewDog are working on helping to change people’s eating habits for the better.

Maria and I were back in the UK in December and January, and we of course visited a few BrewDog bars in England and Wales. In January, BrewDog teamed up with Beyond Meat, a company who, in their own words, have “developed 100% plant-based products that take the animal out of the equation – without sacrificing taste or satisfaction”. The result was this incredibly smokey and succulent Born to Live burger:

Photo: Simon Robinson

Last year BrewDog put their weight behind the #NoMeatMonday initiative by offering customers a vegan or vegetarian meal from their meat-free menu on a 2 for 1 deal in any of their UK bars all day.

I really enjoyed the Born to Live burger and Maria especially so, going back to have a second one on our visit to BrewDog in Glasgow.

While the 2-for-1 offer was limited to UK bars, BrewDog São Paulo also launched their Veggie Monday menu, which was a great way of showcasing their vegetarian options.

Photo: BrewDog São Paulo

Their showcase burger was their Mr. Chickpeas, a burger which I was really keen to check out.

Photo: BrewDog São Paulo

Now here’s the thing. While this burger was quite tasty, it just didn’t quite earn for me 5 stars out of 5, a rating I would need to be able to really recommend to friends. If I am going to recommend a dish or a restaurant to friends, the offering really has to be the very best of class, because my friends will take an evening out of their time, they will need to travel, and they will be spending their hard earned money.

And what is more, the burger simply was not something I could suggest my meat-eating friends to try. I don’t think they would have really enjoyed it, as it was more a soft veggie pattie, rather than a burger you could chomp on.

For some time Maria and I have been saying to our friends at BrewDog São Paulo and also to many of the team in the UK that given that São Paulo is one of the world’s top culinary cities, there really are almost no decent veggie burgers to our knowledge.

I am someone seeking a true veggie burger, a nutty, seedy, herby, oomphy experience, so it was great to see last month that the bar had updated its menu a little, and now has a Clint Briestwood burger, which is a burger which is high on brie cheese.

Historically Brazil has quite a high percentage of immigrants who are Syrian and Lebanese in origin. So this means that Brazil really knows a thing or two about falafel, and their new menu also has falafel for sharing.

And in an excellent move, the bar now also is able to offer falafel in place of meat in all of its burgers, including the new Client Briestwood. And yes, it’s absolutely banging.

Photo: Simon Robinson

As well as the brie, there are lashings of  onions together with a covering of sweet chili sauce, giving it a bit of a kick for those who like this kind of thing. The brioche bun also has almond slices, and is of a quality often missing in other places’ buns. I really want to congratulate the bar as this is now one of the definitive veggie burgers in São Paulo, and something I can now recommend to both veggie and meat-eating friends alike.

It’s funny. A new burger restaurant opened near our apartment some months ago, and Maria and I went their to check it out. I had the same conversation with the owner that I had with BrewDog, that I really felt that there was a gap in the market for a definitive veggie burger. The owner did not seem to react too well, despite me being both keen to offer ideas and very polite in manner of offering some feedback. He was a little offhand with us to be honest, and we never returned. And on our return from the UK we saw that the restaurant had closed.

It is never easy to receive feedback, especially when you have spent the time and effort to create something which comes from the heart and that you believe that people will love. I am very conscious of this when offering feedback.

But kudos to BrewDog for having the ability to listen not only to me, but to their 90,000 strong community of Equity Punk investors, many who offer strong and frank feedback in language far more robust than that of mine. When a company really is able to listen to feedback and hold back the pride, it is amazing how it can evolve and develop, and create a loyal cohort of customers who enthusiastically and authentically share all that is good that they are doing.

I sometimes think that some people really need to learn how to listen to customers, and learn how to receive feedback no matter what manner it may come in. But those who dominate in this area are often either the market leaders in their sectors or they are the most disruptive. And they are also ones able to do good in the world without being too preachy. In BrewDog we see one particular way of doing things, one particular way of being which of course is not for everyone, but which can inspire others to do good with humour and attitude.

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