Beyond Meat Burger
It’s Vegan! Any Good? or Not?
Any Recipes? Read on…
These were questions occupying my mind ever since these things appeared at my local Safeway.
So I decided to spend a weekend afternoon carefully preparing two new Beyond Meat meatless patties to see what this is all about. Food or junk?
Now my bar is high because I love meat, and am no vegan. But have many friends who are and mostly the vegan burgers — well you know what you are eating. Some mashup of mushrooms and grains and beans and such. Doesn’t come close to tasting like meat or replacing meats important compounds. But maybe this does. Lets find out.
First: These are fully vegan, made from plants. VEGAN!
While they look like meat, and indeed bleed (thanks to beet juice), there is not a shred of meat in them. The makers say they require ~90% less resources than burgers made from actual cows. A 1/4 pound of beef requires some 500 gallons of water to grow the crops to feed the cattle and then to let the cattle drink. This takes 80% to 90% less water, so they say.
The company’s basic thesis that meat’s core parts — amino acids, lipids, trace elements, carbs and minerals — don’t have exclusive residence in the animal kingdom. If the company pulled this off, your body will not know the difference between this and actual beef. The amino acids and other compounds should be the same chemically, just derived from a different source.
The cooking instructions seem clear enough. 3 minutes a side. But they give no hint on how to prepare them to taste great. So on we go…
While not every ingredient is fully understandable, and might actually be made of molecules our body is confused by, I figured it’s worth a try anyway. Mostly the ingredients are recognizable. The company’s intent is to derive the same amino acids and prioteins from plant sources that we would find in meat. These are no listed in beef ingredients because beef is just beef and comes with the compiunds. So, I suspect these are all just fine and extracted from plants ratrher than created in some frankenlab. At least thats what their intent is and I believe them. And I did eat crickets recently and they didnt kill me. So how bad can this stuff be? BTW crickets are meat, to be clear. Crunchy meat, but it’s meat. There are no crickets in the Beyond Meat patties. Just stuff made from plants.
Nutrition-wise these are NOT a low calorie food. Lots of good plant protein for sure, but comes with plenty of fats to drive up the calories to nearly 300/patty. But you need fats to get that burger taste and feel.
They come sealed in plastic, not so nice looking at first. Two to a package for about $6. Thats around $12/pound. Expensive hamburger, but remember there is no meat, so onward we go!
I first prepared my tomato slices. I had read that some people felt the burgers were a little bland and tastless. So if I was going to do this right, I should add all the toppings a great burger would have.
This is the texture of the patty. A close up. It’s not exactly like real meat, but it’s no veggie burger either. It also wants to fall apart and not stay together so you need to be very careful handling it. I used a spatula at all times to handle the meat because my hands might have broken the patty.
Given the potential lack of flavor ahead, I made sure to season them very thoughtfully and thoroughly. Onion powder, garlic powder and Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, each on both sides of the patty. I did not hold back. I also added some pepper as well, optional if you don’t like a little spice.
Here you can see them seasoned. I heated the gas grill to about medium, easily 450 degrees but not much more. And on they went.
Also buttered and toasted the buns. They can be gluten free to stay gluten free all the way (the patties are gluten free), although these were not. Butter on the buns helps them toast better and also adds a lot of flavor to any burger. You can substitute a good quality vegan spread like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Vegan. Also these buns had egg in the ingredients because Safeway had no vegan buns. But obviously you can make or buy vegan buns with non eggs or milk instead.
Here is a closeup of the patty after flipping it over after about 4 minutes. Kind of looks like beef. Not exactly but also no veggie burger.
All burgers are better with cheese. I did use a dairy-based cheese but of course there are fine soy and almond cheeses to choose from to keep this all 100% vegan. Or skip the cheese altogether. But it did add a nice flavor.
After 3 minutes on the other side they were done and ready to be topped and served.
I added mustard and ketchup, again siding with “must add flavor” in case others were right.
And finally time to eat these plant based vegan marvels!
Bite bite bite. Good bite.
So…how do they taste??
Well first, the texture is pretty close to beef. And texture is absolutely key to fooling us. The color will never change to brown in the middle. The red you see is beet juice. It’s not rare underdone meat. It just is. Live with it.
As for the taste, it was quite acceptable. It did need the seasonings I provided. This was no grass-fed super tasty cow. But with seasonings the experience was absolutely enjoyable. And not at all like a veggie burger.
I totally recommend trying these for certain. Maybe even adding them to your stable of regular foods.
The company has raised almost $100M to get their recipe right. So it’s no easy task to make plant-based meat. But I think these guys have indeed gotten close enough that with the right fixin’s this is a lovely burger.
So…why would one choose this over beef?
Well for one, if you are vegan or vegetarian it’s an obvious choice. If you want to reduce climate change, also a great choice. If you are bothered by the slaughtering of animals it’s a great choice.
Now it’s not clear there is any particular health benefit. There is just as much fat as in average beef patty. Far more than a lean patty. Different origin and maybe that’s better for you, maybe not. We thought margerine was better than butter for us for 50 years, but in the end it wasn’t at all (trans-fats got in the way).
But for certain this is better for the environment, and will save a cows life today. The taste and texture are very good, and with some decent seasoning you will be pleased with the outcome in your mouth, which is a great outcome when it comes to food. Your family will enjoy them, and made as above, it’s quite possible you could fool a great many people in to believeing this is beef.
I can wholeheartedly recommend the Beyond Meat Burger. And I really recommend you try it to see where food is going, and one possibility to feeding the masses in the decades to come.