Jim Clark had farming, Niki Lauda had his airline and Lewis Hamilton already has interests in the fashion industry. Now the British champion has invested in a meat-free burger chain.
The business is called Neat Burger, and will use plant-based substitutes for meat. His co-investors are Ryan Bishti, a nightclub mogul, and Tommaso Chiabra, a backer of the US vegan burger maker, Beyond Meat.
Its first outlet opened near Regent Street in London yesterday (Monday, 2 September). Sites in Covent Garden and Kings Cross will follow, along with a US and European launch. A total of £15 million ($18 million) is being raised to fund the expansion.
Hamilton’s high-steaks investment
According to Bishti, Lewis has taken a sizeable stake in the endeavour. As the UK’s richest sportsperson, he can afford to branch out. Meat-free eating is close to Hamilton’s heart, too. He’s a noted public proponent of vegetarianism and veganism.
Beyond Meat has been working with the new chain to develop a plant-based imitation of meat, down to the infusing of beetroot juice so the patty can ‘bleed’. Beyond Meat’s other partners in meat-free food development include Honest Burgers and KFC on the development of a chicken substitute.
“We are not aiming for vegans or a plant-based niche, we are aiming to convert meat-eaters,” Bishti said.
“We are part of a movement happening when you look at the world today in the Amazon with deforestation for crops and agri-farming. This is a perfect way to make a change.”
Meat-free foods are a solid area of investment for Hamilton. This year alone the beef industry has been taking a lot of criticism for its contribution to climate change.
The Vegan Society claims the number of vegans in the UK has shot up from 150,000 to over 600,000 during the last five years.