Marco Rodriguez stopped by the bright red food truck with his vegan girlfriend. She wanted him to try the free burgers — make that meatless burgers. Then he took a bite. And then, another.

“She tricked me!” he said as he finished wiping his fingers. “She wouldn’t tell me why this burger was special. It ‘bleeds’ and even tastes like meat!”

What Marco tasted was a burger made from pea-protein isolate. The give-away campaign was sponsored by The Economist, a magazine rarely associated with food trucks. But the campaign is part of the weekly publication’s effort to educate the public on food waste reduction and find alternatives to meat.

The project has also led to a delicious boost in magazine’s circulation — make that a 30% annual growth rate since the campaign began three years ago.

Back then, the campaign began with a meatless taco truck in the United Kingdom. Now, there are trucks in New York and San Franciso, too. As of early 2017, The Economist’s total subscription base has grown to just over 300,000, according to Lauren Hackett, the magazine’s vice president of global communications.

“Yes, this is a bit unconventional for us to do, but free food generally does the trick,” she laughed. “At least New Yorkers get vegan burgers, instead of super unconventional insect ice cream we’re giving out in London!”

San Franciscans, meanwhile, will be getting smoothies. Their beverages will be made from imperfect produce that was headed for the trash, but is perfectly edible.

In New York, the vegan burgers are made by Beyond Meat. Its staffers cook the burgers on the food truck for everyone to see. In order to imitate sizzling fat, they use coconut oil instead.

As for the “bloodiness” of the burger, it’s made from beets. The result is a burger free of cholesterol, and half the fat of a meat-based burger. It also contains 20 grams of plant-based protein, which is 8 grams more than any Big Mac or Whopper, for the same serving size!

“I think it’s pretty cool what they’re doing,” said Jonathan Sun, a current Economist subscriber, as he took a burger. “I’m not vegan, but I hope it’s good.”

A few minutes later, he rated his meatfree experience with a thumbs up while he chewed.

The New York truck began roaming the city in mid-July 2017. It was first seen a few blocks north of the 1 train station on 96th Street, before rotating around key locations in New York. The truck is  part of the magazine’s “Fast Forward Food,” said Hackett.

“It is an extension of #FeedingTheFuture that focuses on the alternative protein market,” she explained. “It is not a statement of wanting to convert people to veganism. Rather, it is a call for people to take a step back, and think of the implications in trying to provide sufficient protein to a rapidly-expanding global population.”

The truck is expected to stay operational in the long-run, with The Economist able to swap out products as its campaigns progress.

People who participate in the program by consuming a burger are offered a special rate of $12 for 12 weeks, including an online subscription.