Sacramento flips out on Great Vegan Burger Battle

Californian city’s latest lip-smacking contest shines light on meat free eating

Three vegan burgers in a row, a man holding a burger labelled 'vegan' and a single veggie burger with all the trimmings

If you happen to be visiting Sacramento next month, make sure you arrive hungry. Because that’s when the inaugural Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle will be taking place, showcasing the very best in meat and dairy free burgers.

From June 1-30, more than 30 chefs and restaurants in the Californian capital will be squaring up to each other, wielding an array of delicious vegan burgers and side dishes. The contest has a number of categories, including: Beyond Burger, Impossible Burger, House-Made Vegan Burger, Portobello Burger and Oil-Free Vegan Burger (the first two feature plant-based patties made by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods respectively). The one rule is that everything must be vegan, from the patty to the bun, as well as all cheese, relishes, salads and side dishes.

The event’s organiser, Bethany Davis, is the meat free mastermind behind the city’s annual Vegan Chef Challenge, now in its eighth year, and the Great Vegan Burger Battle will be operating along similar lines. The joy of both competitions is that the diners are effectively the judges: they do the tasting, either posting comments or voting online for their favourite dishes.

Main categories aside, Sacramento’s award-hungry chefs and restaurants can also win prizes for Best Fries and Sides; Highest-selling/Most Sold burger; Highest Profile burger on social media; Most Viewed burger, and Most Photogenic/Best Vegan Food Porn.

As well as being a hub of vegan food, Sacramento is an MFM city: its council passed a Meatless Monday resolution in 2016, in honour of MFM founder Paul McCartney, who was about to play a gig in the city. Thanks to this, and the events organised by Davis, she says “awareness [of meat free eating] is growing” among Sacramento’s 500,000 inhabitants, adding that increasing numbers of restaurants across the area are offering vegan options.

If the Vegan Chef Challenge is anything to go by, the Burger Battle looks set to be a flipping success. More than 70 eateries take part in the VCC and 95 per cent continue to serve up their successful competition entries once the contest is over for another year, meaning it’s likely the best burgers will stay on the menu for the for-eatable future.

For Davis, one of the purposes of the Vegan Burger Battle is to “raise awareness and have the yummy, competition burgers be all-vegan from bun to patty and everything in-between, along with the sides.” And even before Sacramento’s burger chefs lock spatulas, she has noticed an uptick in vegan offerings. “The Impossible Burger started popping up at restaurants throughout the area that had not previously offered vegan items, and had not previously participated in Vegan Chef Challenge. One specifically meat-based burger place started offering the Impossible Burger patty option in mid-March, and sold over 1,000 patties within two months!”

She is now hopeful that other cities will take up the baton and organise their own vegan events. If you’re interested, email the organisers at info@sacveganchallenge.com. Or for more information on the Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle or the Vegan Chef Challenge, visit the website.