When I was younger, my family used to travel frequently from Seattle to Portland to visit family. On the drive down there, we would always make a pit stop at Burgerville in Centralia, WA! It was always tempting for us to eat fast food on the road because it’s quick and easy. That way we don’t spend hours dawdling and we can get to our destination in lighting speed. Burgerville was the perfect choice because it has the benefits of fast food except it’s better quality.
While making the trek down to Portland this summer, I suggested to my mom that we could be nostalgic and snack there again. Then it hit me. Oh no, they might not have a vegan option for me! Scrambling for a quick Google search of their product ingredients, I see the word “Vegan” next to the bean patty. I then had relief that I could re-live my childhood memories.
Sure, their bean patty is vegan, but I had to customize the burger to make it 100% vegan! Luckily, I had vegan tomato and cayenne pepper Chao Cheese from Field Roast and vegan chipotle Just Mayo on hand (I always seem to). I ordered the Anasazi Bean Burger without mayo and cheese, added extra pickles (of course), and added my own flare to it. I was in heaven!
Alright, maybe it wasn’t pure heaven because there was something that put me off from this experience. The restaurant was plastered with lies. Burgerville’s style, similar to those at Whole Foods and Chipotle, is about gearing their products to be more “humane”. While, I did have a burger at Burgerville, I’m sure the patty was accidentally vegan instead of intentional. Burgerville is more geared towards the people who obviously are there to eat burgers, food there is not meant for vegans. What better way for them to sell their product than to make it appear humane. This way people can enjoy their food and not feel bad about it. But the truth is that there is no such thing as humane meat and animal products.
It’s a pretty convincing tactic though, I was once fooled by it as well. Niman Ranch, suppliers of the Burgerville’s products, aim for that small farm vibe that most people envision when they think of farms. Though if you look at the bigger picture, Niman Ranch has to be able to supply thousands or even millions of products to Burgerville. To be able to produce that much goods on a small scale farm level is simply unrealistic.
Sadly, all large scale animal agriculture industries are like this. Animals are treated unjust because they are seen as number. Whether they are the number that’s tagged on their ear or the dollar in industry’s pocket, they are not seen as a sentient living beings who have a desire to live. That’s why seeing that Niman Ranch’s poster claiming to have compassion for their animals, literally crushes my heart.
Even if they support and use products from small farmers, there are many practices in any animal agriculture industry which I consider as being completely cruel and inhumane. Even certified organic products still use actions such as grinding up male chicks, taking away male calves from their mom and selling them as veal (in the dairy industry), castrating and docking off tails of animals without any pain killers, breeding and altering animals to make farmers’ lives easier, and artificially inseminating animals without their consent. These are just a few examples, but the list goes on. At the end of day and after all this pain and suffering, these animals are still slaughtered for our taste buds.
Lastly, Niman Ranch also claims to be sustainable. However, animal agriculture consumes resources. Think about how much water is used alone! The amount of water to grow the feed and sustain animals on a meat-eating diet exceeds the amount of water used for vegan diet. The documentary Cowspiracy said that one 1/4 lb burger is the equivalent of two months of showering!
I quite enjoyed the taste of my bean burger, but I won’t ever step foot in Burgerville anytime in the future. I didn’t even know about this until I had finished my food and saw the posters near the washroom, but I can no longer support the myth that animals in the animal agriculture industry can be raised humanely. My hope is that others who read this post understand the intent behind advertisements and labels instead of just being simple recipients of their messages. We should all have awareness of the reality that happens behind closed doors.