Burgers are my weakness.
The problem is fast food and animal welfare don’t traditionally go hand in hand.
So where can you find a guilt-free beef burger in London?
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
GBK proudly states on its website all beef is made from “100% prime beef, traditionally reared and grass fed on independent farms across the South West counties”.
A spokesperson told me:
“Our buffalo burgers are organic and come from the rather wonderful @Laverstoke“
A bit about Laverstoke farm, in Hampshire:
“2,500 acres of biodymanic & organic farming, following nature and keeping it natural, healthy and happy.”
The farm’s website is fascinating, and full of information about organic farming and using science to aid farming.
Tommi’s first opened its doors in Iceland in 2004, before making its way over to London. The restaurant sources all its beef from H G Walter butchers, a family-run company providing free range and organic meat, poultry and game.
The butchers sell “pure-bred Aberdeen Angus beef, hand selected to meet our exacting standards, and traditionally reared on open pastures in Ayrshire, Scotland”.
The website adds:
“We buy from small specialist producers, people who share our passion for good food, and from farmers who raise free-range, organically-fed animals in the traditional way.”
Zan Kaufman was working as a lawyer in New York when he tasted the “best burger I had ever eaten”. One year later, he moved to London, bought an old food van and Bleecker St. was born.
He writes on the restaurant’s website:
“There is zero compromise with our ingredients. Burgers are about the beef. We use rare-breed, pasture-fed beef from small farms in the UK.”
The company tells me it uses The Butchery Ltd for its beef.
The butchers state on their website:
“Focused on providing tasty, native-breed, free-range, pasture-fed, dry-aged meat sourced from small farmers who care.
“Pride as a butcher, respect for the animals we kill to eat and a desire to be sustainable means The Butchery Ltd buys whole animal carcasses, butchering ‘nose to tail’ in the traditional manner which is done by so few these days, then adapting cuts for the modern palate.
“Meat is free-range, as chemical free as possible.. sourced directly from smaller farms or in conjunction with Traditional Breeds Meat Market.”
Honest Burgers first started in 2010 as a marquee serving festivals and events. Soon after, the joint moved to Brixton, and well, the rest is history.
All the beef is sourced from Ginger Pig butchers, who state:
“There is no great secret to what we do: we simply raise the best animals, in the happiest of circumstances, on the finest stretch of the Yorkshire Moors we could find.”
The butchers have five “freedom” commitments, which include:
Freedom from hunger or thirst, discomfort, pain, injury or disease; freedom to express normal behaviour, and freedom from fear and distress.
In short: you can be sure the meat you eat at Honest Burgers is free range. However, do note the meat is not organic, you can read more about Ginger Pig’s reasons not to farm organically, instead focusing on sustainability, here.
Patty & Bun
Founded by Joe Grossman who saw a niche in the UK market after trying Shake Shack in the US, Patty & Bun started as a pop-up but soon established itself at a permanent residence.
I was told by the restaurant the beef comes from grass-fed Aberdeen Angus meat, allowed to roam freely, although they did not confirm whether the beef was organic.
The press office has kindly informed me the Brgr.co burgers are sourced from Campbell Brothers butchers, up in Scotland, who also provide the Royal Household with meat and poultry. The butchers use beef from Buccleuch cattle which have been grass fed – and the company is proud of its “fully traceable” pasture to plate policy.
Burger & Lobster
I can’t speak for the lobster, but I can confirm the American-style diner uses corn-fed cattle, which are free to roam. The Burger & Lobster team confirmed to me the cattle is fed with non-GMO.
The one catch – the cattle comes all the way from Nebraska.
A little note on..
I’ve made numerous attempts to find out where the restaurant sources its beef from, but to no avail. Although every other burger joint was more than happy to answer my questions on Twitter, it seems MeatLiquor isn’t so open about where their produce originates.
Update: MEATLiquor’s press office finally got back to me. I was told: “They’ve used the same supplier from day one, but they are unable to divulge any further details on the source.”
Naturally, I pressed this, and was then informed: “It’s the secret to their success, from the early days of Meatwagon and numerous me-too brand that have tried to follow suit they’ve always kept the recipe to this success under wraps.”
The website states its burgers are made from “properly sourced British beef” – although there’s no further indication of what that actually means. I’ve put the question to the Byron crew, so fingers crossed I hear back.
In a 2011 interview, founder Tom Byng said:
“We don’t have rare breeds of beef in our hamburgers and we’re not certified organic. but we do make sure it’s sourced from one small abattoir in Scotland. The reason we’re guaranteed good beef is because they’re supplied by small farms, not big farms, and small farms use traditional husbandry so you don’t get intensive beef farming.”
Unfortunately, Byng then added:
“We commit to grinding every morning and sell 90% on that day and leftovers are all done by lunchtime the next day. Anything that’s in the fridge after that, we throw away.”
Hopefully the chain’s food waste policy has changed since then…