Beyond Meat is getting some serious attention lately. It all started in 2016 when the company debuted its impressive, meat-like vegan Beyond Burger in the meat section of grocery stores. Then it took center stage earlier this year when it became the first vegan company to go public. And now the Beyond Burger is making its way into fast-food restaurants across the country. The company’s star product defied all our expectations and is making an enormous impact on the way meat-eaters view plant-based options. But now, suddenly, there’s an uproar of opinions on the burger’s ingredient list and perceived healthfulness. Let’s just get this point out of the way before I go any further: the Beyond Burger is not the healthiest food you can eat. But neither are a lot of foods available to us today (vegan or otherwise) and I don’t see people comparing them to dog food and praising a grass-fed version. The burger’s benefits are far beyond that of nutrition. Here are five reasons why I continue to eat the Beyond Burger and share its vegan glory with all my friends.
1. It’s better for the environment.
The Beyond Burger is meant, in part, for people who want to be mindful of their environmental footprint. It requires 99 percent less water, 93 percent less land, and 90 percent fewer greenhouse gases to produce compared to a beef burger. Beyond Meat isn’t working solely to create a healthier patty, but rather, to create a healthier planet by making an alternative to beef that addresses global resource constraints. We’re all aware that raising animals for food is inefficient. Plus, with increasingly devastating environmental problems—such as the record-breaking fires in Brazil’s Amazon region, all because of the beef industry—the urgency to stop supporting animal agriculture has never been greater.
2. It means I now have a meal option when I visit a restaurant.
The way mainstream restaurants are adopting the Beyond Burger as a menu item is thrilling. Rather than choosing between French fries and a salad when going out to eat, I can now indulge in a burger just like my friends (even at McDonald’s here in Canada!). Most restaurants that carry Beyond will allow you to swap out their standard burgers’ beef patty for a juicy vegan patty before piling on all your favorite burger toppings—and this new option is helping a lot of meat-eaters make the switch.
3. An animal doesn’t have to die for me to enjoy a burger.
This point is obvious if you’re already vegan. But if you’re not, consider that you now have the option to enjoy the taste and feel of a burger without an animal having to suffer and die for it. This fact alone is an important enough reason for me.
4. It tastes like a real burger (and I’m okay with that).
Like many vegans, I didn’t give up animal products because I didn’t like the taste of meat. My motivation was fully driven by my desire to no longer harm animals and to have a lesser impact on the environment. For those who haven’t yet made the switch, this burger is an incredibly convenient and comfortable stepping stone—and one I wish was available to me when I went vegan 20 years ago.
5. It means I’m supporting a company that’s making needed change.
I think Beyond Meat, and its competitors, is the best thing since sliced bread. Innovative food companies such as this one are built around challenging people’s perception of what meat is, and providing a cruelty-free, environmentally-friendly option. At the same time, they’re also making us rethink our use of animals for protein. I know that breaking the long-held habit of eating animals is difficult (I’ve been there) but baby steps and good substitutes like the Beyond Burger can be a huge help. I can’t wait until the day comes when plant-based eating is normalized in the mainstream and perhaps we’ll be less reliant on meat substitutes, but in the meantime I’m celebrating each step forward.