After closing at Westside Provisions District last April due to the pandemic, organic burger joint Yeah! Burger finally reopens this fall with not only a newly renovated interior and refreshed logo, but a “100% plant-based” menu, too.
Owners Erik Maier and Kelly Wallace announced the vegan menu pivot via Instagram. Wallace and Maier also own grain bowl and smoothie spot Upbeet at the neighboring Iron Works complex across the street.
In addition to Beyond Meat beef patties and brats and vegan hot dogs, Yeah Burger will continue to serve gluten-free menu items, including its popular onion rings, fries, and Brussels sprouts, as well as soy-free options. The menu also features an all-day breakfast section with biscuit sandwiches, pancakes, and French toast as well as Beyond chicken tenders, salads, and sandwiches like an oyster mushroom po’boy, a Beyond meatball sub, a vegan Philly, and a TLT with tempeh strips.
While many commenters on the post raved about the menu shift, citing the detrimental environmental impacts of large-scale cattle farming and the meat industry on the climate, others lamented the loss of their “favorite” burger, jesting that the name of the restaurant should be changed to “Nah Burger” or “No Burger”. Some vowed they wouldn’t be back.
When asked if he and Wallace are concerned about losing customers because of the new menu, Maier tells Eater, “We’re very proud of the history we have in Atlanta and still hope to positively influence the food scene here. Our vegan and vegetarian customers are very excited about our new menu, but we’ve also designed the menu with our omnivore and flexitarian customers in mind, because these groups are typically the largest supporters of plant-based restaurants,” he adds.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the international livestock industry is responsible for 14.5 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. Industrial-scale cattle farming alone is behind much of the harmful carbon and methane emissions leading to the deforestation and destruction of the Amazon in Brazil.
Experts believe the harmful effects on the planet caused by the cattle industry can be reduced by individuals cutting back on their meat consumption and purchasing pasture-raised beef and chicken from small and local farms over meats produced on an industrial scale.
“Traditional monoculture farming and animal agriculture are causing the desertification of vast parts of our planet, and there isn’t enough land to support current meat consumption via pasture-raised methods, so something has to change,” Maier tells Eater. “We want to be part of that change and believe it is our responsibility to adapt the business to better serve our mission with food that’s healthier for our environment, and our customers.”
Companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat tout “saving the planet” by selling beef-like patties made from plants, claiming to replicate the texture, flavor, and even “bleed” like real beef.
But Stephan van Vliet, a postdoctoral researcher at the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, who helped lead a comparative lab analysis of plant-based proteins and animal-based proteins at the university, says people shouldn’t see these proteins as “nutritionally interchangeable.”
“...but that’s not to say that one is better than the other,” van Vliet says in a July press release on the results of the analysis. “Plant and animal foods can be complementary, because they provide different nutrients.”
Last August, Maier and Wallace closed the decade-old Virginia-Highland outpost of Yeah Burger. It was quickly snatched up by Farm Burger, an Atlanta-based organic burger restaurant chain serving “100% grass-fed beef” burgers, along with vegetarian, chicken, and pork-based patties.
Update, August 30, 3:45 p.m.: This story has been updated with comments from co-owner Erik Maier.