New Zealand chain HELL Pizza recently launched a burger patty-topped pizza. Although many assumed the burgers on the pie were made with beef, all the meat on the pizza was actually vegan.
The chain didn’t openly announce what kind of meat is used on the Burger Pizza until one week after its launch to see if the 3,000 customers who ordered it could tell the difference on their own.
Many couldn’t tell the difference between a traditional beef burger and the “bleeding” plant-based Beyond Burgers used on the pizza. Seventy percent said the patty tasted like meat, 70 percent said that they would buy the Burger Pizza again, and 80 percent said they were surprised but unfazed to find the meat was vegan.
“We care about the planet and want to start a conversation and raise awareness about sustainable food choices,” said Ben Cumming, the general manager at HELL Pizza, in a statement.
He continued, “a lot of people are instantly put off by the idea of fake meats, so we made the call to not reveal its meat-free origins to [those] eating it because we were so confident they’d enjoy these patties.”
Others pointed out that many fast food chains are secretive about what goes into their food. “For those saying that they have the right to know what ingredients are used in their food, please answer this question,” said one Facebook user. “Name KFC’s 11 herbs and spices?”
Hell Pizza explained its stance to the Independent. “We have not lied or made any false claims. Some people assumed that the burger patty was made from meat but burger patties can be made from many different ingredients. There may be a few angry meat lovers out there but it’s nothing a pizza voucher won’t mix.”
Despite the controversy, HELL Pizza’s vegan options are selling well, with 35,000 plant-based pizzas sold so far this year. “We see that trend increasing all the time,” Cumming continued. “With more pressure on the planet’s resources, we need to think about alternative food options.”
He added, “if covertly adding meat-free options onto a pizza encourages more people to be open-minded, we’re happy to do that.”