What a whopper
Another day, another dullard. Ras claat bloodmouths can say what they will about vegans lacking energy but rage is a renewable resource and we can go on mining that indefinitely. The news that Miami vegan Philip Williams is suing Burger King for their plant-based Impossible Whopper being insufficiently vegan should come as no surprise to anyone. The unravelling of cycling psychopath Durian “Implied Consent” Rider like your small intestine during ritual disembowelment was more of a bolt from the blue.
First, a digression. When Jim Carrey first met Tommy Lee Jones before they worked together on mid-nineties turkey Batman Forever, he felt the unmistakable chill of solid hostility. What was the problem, Carrey wondered? Jones told him “‘I hate you. I really don’t like you.” He was not joking. Carrey, a big fan of Jones, was perplexed. He asked him why. “I cannot sanction your buffoonery,” came the response. This is the position we should take against this inept grandstanding pageantry.
Back to the grill again
So, what’s the complainant’s beef? Williams claims that it is impossible for the vegan Impossible Whopper to be vegan if it has been cooked on the same grill as the restaurant’s beef patties. The burger’s strapline “100% Whopper, 0% Beef”, he says, is misleading. Williams is seeking damages not only for himself but everyone in America who bought the Impossible Whopper and is also after an injunction requiring Burger King to disclose their disgusting mixed grills in every outlet.
Burger King’s response has essentially been to say “well, you could have asked!” On their website, it states that non-broiler methods of preparation are available upon request. Pity the transnational leviathan whose previous biggest problem was running out of Zesty Sauce because of the global horseradish shortage.1
“Don’t you just hate picky eaters? That’s why I like the cows we murder – they’ll eat any old shit!” said Tom Fuckface, Burger King regional manager, Miami-Dade County.
It’s hip to be fake
It’s too bad because plant-based meat has been having something of an annus mirabilis.2 Outside of Burger King, Impossible Foods have penetrated the inner sanctums of dozens of restaurants; Beyond Meat’s successful violation list includes Denny’s, KFC and Subway.3 Beyond Meat’s IPO gave soulless Wall Street fucks a close equivalent to the human emotion called joy, their share price rocketing by 163% in a single day’s trading. While lab-grown meat established itself as the UK food of tomorrow, plant-based meat established itself as the food of today.
Blow your enemy
Still and all, fuck Burger King. Fuck them in every orifice until they are a bloody mess howling at your feet, right? We can certainly have sympathy with that position. Their animal feed has been responsible for tropical forest erosion4, they kept shit-smeared broiler chickens5 in agonising condition for years, they foster salmonella6 in East Asia and, you know, they’ve slaughtered about 70 continents of cows, chickens and pigs.
Pulling a fast one
The problem is, it’s not just Burger King we’re sticking our rigid dingus into – it’s every layer of the supply chain. Think about how much of a game changer vegan meat in Burger King is. So long perceived as a fringe pursuit of smelly wackjobs, anaemic nerds and racist loons, veganism’s move into the mainstream is as surprising as it is welcome. That you can get tinned jackfruit in Sainsbury’s, Gardein in Waitrose and No Bull in Iceland is impressive enough. That you can get convincing plant-based meat in the belly of the beast, the fast food industry, is truly astonishing.
Building the arc
What many don’t realise is that it could all go away. Yeah sure, Shill Gates and Leonardo DiCapreteen ploughed cash into Beyond Meat and sure, Impossible Foods raised $300 million in investment this year and yeah, the beef lobby is shook up enough to try to outlaw them calling it meat.7 Such growth is built on shifting sands though. Let’s say the lawsuit is somehow successful and there is a ruling that all vegan burgers be cooked on a separate grill. Given the astronomical cost of that, there is nothing to stop Burger King saying “screw you and screw your bullshit plant burger – we’re shitcanning it right now. Now hand me a stiff drink and find me a chicken to throttle.”
Progress feels inevitable once it’s already happened but it’s naïve to take it for granted. Even though Martin Luther King said that the arc of history inevitably “bends towards justice”, there’s plenty of evidence that that simply isn’t the case.8 Creating frivolous lawsuits like this one makes you an impediment on the road to light, truth and fewer animal skulls on our collective conscience.
Obviously, we’d all like to think that the vegan boom is not just a flash in the pan. A couple of things are worth bearing in mind, though. Firstly, while the growth numbers sound impressive, they are from a pretty low base. If there are 10 vegans in your city it only takes 10 more to double them.
Secondly, there have been numerous phenomena throughout history that expanded like your dad’s waistline after the divorce and seemed like they would never go away. Let’s take a look at bubbles and what they mean for you and me(at). Back in the 17th century, when the Netherlands was the global economic superpower, Tulip Mania9 gripped the country. A potent status symbol, the penis-shaped flower achieved unprecedented popularity, its multiple colours and variants lending themselves particularly well to spectacular displays and were a dream for marketers. Growers branded new strains with extravagant names. Your tulip said something about you, the real you, the wild maverick creative no one truly saw – the glorious secret you hid even from yourself.
So you had to have them. In abundance. Supply and demand worked its grisly magic. Prices and the trading of tulip futures contracts skyrocketed. Fortunes were made. If you weren’t riding the tulip wave, then you could basically just suck the universe’s fuzzy balls because you were about as much use as a chocolate fireguard with an obsolete locking mechanism.
And then one day it all ended. In early 1637, the bottom fell out of the market like Grace Kelly falling out of a Bentley when cornering the Mont Agel after a morning doing Jägerbbombs with Maria Callas. Thousands of clinically depressed Dutchmen were left with cripplingly expensive tulip bulb paperweights. Several took their own lives as their wives left them for solvent Belgians and Germans. The Netherlands never recovered and slowly disintegrated into the wretched disgrace of a Third World country we know today.
Déjà vu all over again
Like a rambling Alzheimer’s sufferer telling you about his day, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as “oh, mate.” Fast forward 200 years and we see Railway Mania10 in 1840s Britain. Speculators piled cash into railway shares like they were suddenly allergic to money. Across the country, railways got laid quicker than a 9/10 cheerleader with daddy issues in her first semester at college. Fraudsters, shysters and maniacs came along for the ride. Families of the burgeoning middle-class poured their entire savings into the railways. “This boom part of the inevitable boom-and-bust cycle is brilliant!” said one excited patriarch.
Like a crank-addled porn star waiting for the money shot, you can see what’s coming. Practically overnight, shrewdies realised that their railway investments were now as worthless as a 2:2 liberal arts degree. They shorted the stock, getting out with their fortunes intact, sending the price into a downward spiral that left thousands ruined. Botanists, geologists and solicitors sharted their drawers with the dawning realisation that their dreams of opulent retirement were shattered, that they would be working several decades after their deaths and that their wives would be sucking anonymous landlord cock indefinitely just to keep Tiny Tim out of the poorhouse.
I could go on. The Bull Market of the 1920s; The Silicon Valley boom of the late 1990s; the sub-prime Mortgage Crisis of 2008. Human behaviour in the herd is characterised by over-exuberance based on insufficient data and the terrible nagging knowledge that everyone you know is getting the full life experience that is your birthright. History shows we never learn.
Yeah, and so what?
“But what has all this got to do with plant-based meat?” is the question that now forms in your minds. “I mean, sure – I get where you’re going with this. Fads, crazes, bubbles – nothing lasts forever. I get it. But this is a bit of a reach isn’t it? This is a bigger reach than the one that weird little half-man Jamie Cullum makes every time he’s going down on Sophie Dahl and tries to grab a handful of tit only to come up swiping at fresh air because his creepy little T-Rex arms can barely reach her fucking navel, never mind the gigantic Amazonian norks in whose shadow he permanently resides.”
You sexy FOMO
OK, fair point but let me offer you this. Despite all appearances to the contrary, speculators are human just like us. They are subject to the same fallacies, cognitive biases and derangements. You may well have read how millennials are tormented by the fear of missing out but FOMO drives much irrational investor behaviour too.11 So if you imagine that just because significant money is being poured into plant-based meat that there is some fundamental intrinsic lasting value to it that some big brain money people have figured out, then you might want to rethink that.
Public image, you got what you wanted
And to return to the lawsuit, bear in mind that the image of the movement as a whole is important to its overall effectiveness. Plenty of people already think we are dipshit troublemakers, hard to love, impossible to please. How do you think this is going to go over with them? “Say, that vegan guy trying to turn a theoretical microscopic speck of animal fat into the Thalidomide class action seems like a well-adjusted guy. I’d like to hang with him and hear more about his philosophies.” Yeah, something like that.
Buffoon mind state
So sanction this buffoon we must not. Even those frigging loons at PETA have got the memo, saying “We discourage vegans from grilling waiters at restaurants about micro-ingredients in vegetarian foods (e.g., a tiny bit of a dairy product in the bun of a veggie burger). Doing so makes being vegan seem difficult and dogmatic to your friends and to restaurant staff, thus discouraging them from going vegan themselves (which really hurts animals)”.12
This attention-seeking garbage is prioritising your ego over a crippled pig getting its throat cut and you’d really want to knock that off, son.
Peace, I’m out, jetting like a runaway slave.
- Burger King is running out of zesty sauce because of the global horseradish shortage – CNN Business
- The rise of meatless meat, explained – Vox
- These are Beyond Meat’s 16 highest-profile partnerships in the food industry – Markets Insider
- Burger King animal feed sourced from deforested lands in Brazil and Bolivia – The Guardian
- Burger King says it will stop serving abused chickens – CNN Business
- Activist group accuses Burger King of animal cruelty at overseas farm – WSVN 7News
- Congress’ beef with plant-based companies using the word “meat” – Quartz
- Why Moral Progress Is Not Inevitable – Reason.com
- Dutch Tulip Bulb Market Bubble Definition – Investopedia
- Railway Mania: The Largest Speculative Bubble You’ve Never Heard Of – Focus Economics
- Bitcoin’s Not the Only Asset Driven by FOMO: Why Stock Market Investors Should Be Concerned – CCN
- A Note About Small Amounts of Animal Products in Foods – Peta