Singapore-based VeganBurg making waves in the US
Mr Alex Tan, founder of pioneering Singapore-based burger joint VeganBurg, used to eat anything but vegetables and even swore never to have a vegetarian meal.
But things changed when he got into some serious health issues at the age of 27 and a friend introduced him to a plant-based diet.
Mr Tan, 46, saw his health turn around, and he has continued with it, for ethical reasons as well.
In 2009, when his daughter was three, he aimed to teach her about ethical eating.
After doing research, Mr Tan realised the fast-food industry was booming, and the idea of flipping the script by switching the beef patty to a plant-based one came to him.
VeganBurg was launched in 2010 in Singapore with a 100 per cent plant-based menu.
Earlier this month in Chicago, VeganBurg - which has made waves in the US with its San Francisco outlet - made the 74th spot on the Fast Casual Top 100 Movers & Shakers list. Fast Casual is a US information source on the US$23.5 billion (S$32 billion) fast-casual restaurant industry.
Mr Tan told The New Paper: "I was inspired by my three-year-old daughter. I wanted to create a fast casual restaurant for her generation to eat more ethically."
VeganBurg, which has an outlet in Jalan Eunos, prides itself on offering unique fusion recipes, such as the Rasa Sayang, a seasonal special, and Chili Krab burgers.
Mr Tan added: "Not only is (this award) a testimony of what we do, but also an affirmation of our vision of building the burger of the new generation. It will also help accelerate our work in teaming up with the best investors, partners and franchisees to help us with our immediate expansion in California."
Since 2010, global statistics have shown increased interest in veganism, with more companies coming up with plant-based meat alternatives.
Mr Tan does not see them as competition and believes there is a need to join forces.
He said: "It is definitely encouraging to see how the vegan scene has changed. The whole idea behind starting VeganBurg was about inspiring and exciting the world to choose a plant-based diet as a form of sustainable living. More variety is a good thing. I would like to see more plant-based restaurants."
As for sceptics who think a vegan burger will not taste as good as its meat counterparts, Mr Tan challenges them to take the first bite.
He said: "Our motto is 'Once bitten, twice wise'. Once you bite into it, you will be wiser about how flavourful it is and how good it is for the environment and your body."