With the new McDonald’s McPlant burger being trialled in a number of its restaurants from today, plant-based burgers are definitely having a meat-free moment. Folk Features canvases the opinion of a few foodie people in this part of the region
‘I think it is great that one of the biggest companies in the world – and consequently one of the biggest contributors to the animal agriculture industry in the world – has realised that vegan is a viable business model! Happy days. It helps to make the ‘vegan’ option more accessible to millions of people – and that is a good thing!
‘We’re different because we’re 100% vegan – so you don’t have to look for the option or worry if you got the right burger, sauce or cheese – so it’s a great place to start if you’ve never tried a vegan burger, but when you want the whole place to be vegan, then it has to be Hank’s!’
Suzy Smith is a Plant-based Development Chef at Algenuity Ingredients:
‘I’m surprised that McDonald’s has joined the party so late! It’s progress and acknowledges that people are demanding plant-based foods. However, I’m not a fan of McDonald’s so I probably won’t be rushing to try it. My children have never eaten at McDonald’s, but I’m pleased that they will have a plant-based option if they happen to find themselves eating there for some reason.
‘For me, a good plant-based burger should be super-tasty, wholesome, and filling. I don’t really enjoy fake meat products, but I acknowledge that they have their place, and my children love them! Give me a bean burger any day. I don’t always have the time to cook vegan burgers from scratch, so I opt for a beetroot and mint burger made by one of my favourite brands Gosh! and I love it barbecued. The burger must sit within a sturdy roll; none of those “puff of wind” rolls for me! I’ll choose a seed topped sourdough roll. I’ll slather it in vegan garlic mayo and American mustard, next goes the burger, a slice of vegan melted cheese (Applewood preferably), then I top with sliced gherkin, tomato, red onion and maybe a dollop of chilli sauce. Delicious!’
Zena Leech-Calton, of Love Norwich Food, runs cookery classes at Lodge Farm in Bawburgh:
‘My favourite vegan burger in Norwich is by Falafel & Friends on the market – an aubergine schnitzel; my second favourite is their mushroom and black garlic mayo. The Tipsy Vegan sometimes offer a blue cheese vegan burger which is like foodie magic. I’m trying Erpingham House this week so can’t wait to try their burger – I’ve heard good things.
‘I make all the veggie burgers for all my local village events because I won’t let them buy them in. I use any type of tinned beans (no, not baked beans) or chickpeas and whizz with garlic, chilli, ginger, and onion. I add some choice spices like paprika and cumin and bind with guar gum – I’ve not tried aquafaba yet. Sometimes I add a few breadcrumbs, if it’s too wet, to bind into burger shapes with wet hands. And then I simply pan fry until golden and warm. It’s the toppings that make it for me – I change it up all the time. I love caramelised onion or guacamole and roasted peppers but also like old school crunchy salad and crispy onion rings (polenta battered onion rings make them super crispy). All Burgers need to drip – or they aren’t fun.’
Laura Morris-Renouf runs Fork Off It’s VEGAN!, an event catering company covering Norfolk and Suffolk:
‘So what makes a good vegan burger? For me it’s got to have gherkins (so many vegan burgers leave them out), sauce, tomato, onions and lettuce, with something juicy in the middle, – it must have a bit of crunch!
‘And it must be so big you can barely get your mouth round it. Seasoned chips are an absolute must, as a side. Keep your eyes peeled for the dirty burger that’s on its way from Fork Off it’s VEGAN!’
Chris Carr is co-owner of Zaks Authentic American Diners in Norfolk:
‘What makes a good vegan burger for us is being able to integrate it fully into our menu and recreate our famous burgers taste and flavours but 100% plant based. Out of our 18 burgers we can serve 12 of these 100% plant based.
‘We found the right patty, the right facon and cheese to be able to do this. So we haven’t got a little side menu for a plant based diet we have a full blown Zaks 100% plant based menu!’
Cheryl Mullenger, Chef Founder of The Tipsy Vegan, in Norwich and Cambridge:
‘Burgers are about flavour and texture. A good patty should have both – which is enhanced further by the sauce and garnishes that come with it. If you get those components right you’re onto a winner.’
Rachel Cox is the owner of the Little Shop of Vegans in Norwich:
‘For us at Little Shop of Vegans, I’d say a good plant-based burger has to be full of flavour, juicy (definitely not dry), piping hot and topped with lots of melty cheeze, burger sauce and a smidge of salad!’
(Featured image: A Hank’s Dirty burger)