I’m always excited to see communities being conscious about the foods they eat. As a nutrition expert, my main priority is that we keep taking steps towards a better nutritional and environmental world. Recently in the U.S., there’s been a huge swing towards vegetarian and flexitarian eating which is transforming the landscape of food. Plant-based alternatives to meat have risen sharply in popularity.
Beyond simply providing a veggie alternative, shoppers have been asking us to create a burger that has a taste and appearance that will satisfy their meat cravings and provide essential proteins. So we’ve created the Awesome Burger.
Kelly Swette, co-founder of Sweet Earth, knew her team were up for the challenge. “It all started when my daughter and her friends became vegetarians in college. Suddenly we realized how hard it was for them to find great tasting vegetarian foods. I thought to myself, it shouldn’t be this difficult, so that challenge was what Sweet Earth was built from.”
“We founded Sweet Earth on the principles of making smart choices, having a curious mind and palette, and sustaining a healthy body. You can do all that with plant-based foods.”
Why Plant-Based Protein?
A challenge we often talk about when moving to a vegetarian or flexitarian diet is getting enough proteins. Wondering what exactly a protein is? In simple terms, it’s a nutrient made up of amino acids which help your body’s cells to function. Foods full of protein, like meat, provide these essential nutrients.
There are plant-based alternatives though, and the Awesome Burger seeks to provide them through some of its key ingredients, like pea protein.
“Our consumers want protein, so that’s what we wanted to provide them,” explains Kelly Swette. “Our Awesome Burger actually provides 26g of protein. That exceeds the amount you’d find in a meat-based burger and in some of the competitor plant-based burgers already on the market.”
The Sweet Earth team wanted to go further and provide something beyond what’s typically found in meat-based burgers. “In the U.S. only around 3% of us eat enough fiber, which is connected to gut health and brain health. The Awesome Burger has 6g of fiber.”
A Meaty Taste
Many flexitarian diet adopters are concerned with health and sustainability, but still want a plant-based burger to offer a similar taste and texture profile of a familiar meat-based burger.
The Sweet Earth team left no stone un-turned in pursuing a meat-like finished product. “Peas have traditionally had too much of a veggie taste for consumers, but with the pea protein in Awesome Burger, we’ve achieved a meaty taste that people will love. Once it’s grilled, it really does taste beefy!”
In addition to pea-protein, other vegetable ingredients have gone into the product to help it appear more like a traditional beef burger. “Beets and other natural fruit and vegetable juices provide the red color you’d expect from meat, which we felt was important. We also wanted consumers to be able to tell when it’s cooked. When you grill the Awesome Burger, it clearly changes from red to brown, so you can see it’s done.”
The Power of Peas
Peas don’t just do the job of creating a meaty texture, they also have environmental benefits. Sweet Earth tracks its environmental impact live through its Eco Clock. That way, you can find up-to-date information on the energy they’ve saved and greenhouse gas emissions they’ve avoided.
Creating the Awesome Burger with pea protein was an opportunity to use a crop that has value for the environment. “Peas are an extremely sustainable crop. They’re grown in cooler climates, and they are a nitrogen fixer [meaning they replenish soil nutrients that other crops absorb], so they’re great for farmers because they enrich the soil.”
As the plant-based movement has grown, it’s been clear that trends towards healthy eating aren’t just about the health of our bodies. The term “healthy eating” is being re-framed to include eating that contributes to a healthier planet.
Plant-based foods and vegetarian or flexitarian diets aren’t brand new, but it’s clear the momentum around them is growing, and there’s little sign of it slowing down. As a nutrition expert, I’m thrilled to see the thoughtfulness people are utilizing to select their meals.
As Awesome Burger rolls out onto shelves this October, we’re excited to hear what you think of our latest innovation. Keep an eye out for more — the work isn’t yet done in this area, and we’ve got lots of ideas coming your way soon.
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