I’m not a vegetarian, but I’ve tasted my fair share of veggie burgers — both from grocery stores and restaurants.
The most tasty ones have come from a rising number of hip vegan joints. The ones I buy from the frozen food aisle, on the other hand, can often taste dry or rubbery.
So when Beyond Meat claimed it made a 100% plant-based burger that tastes like real beef, I was sceptical, even though Bill Gates has backed it. But when I bought a package, the raw patties looked exactly like raw beef — except that they’re made mostly from pea protein, yeast extract, and coconut oil. They contain beet juice, which gives them a reddish colour.
I grilled a patty on a small skillet for three minutes on each side, and a lot of “plant blood” sizzled on the pan. While it cooked, it didn’t smell like meat, but it sure looked like a burger. It was juicy, a little browned on the outside, and still pinkish in the middle.
Then, I took a bite. It was by far the best veggie burger that you can buy at a grocery store.
To be clear, it wouldn’t fool me as a normal burger in a blind taste test. But the texture, mimicking the flesh and muscles of a cow, is the closest to beef I’ve ever tasted. (To make it taste even more like beef, I’d add steak seasoning next time.)
This isn’t the first veggie burger created by the seven-year-old startup, but it’s the first one that’s not sold frozen like most vegetarian meat products. Instead, the new Beyond Burger is sold in refrigerators alongside real meat.
Like most delicious things, there’s a high demand for the Beyond Burger. It’s currently only available at a Whole Foods in Boulder, and when it hit the shelves there on May 23, the stock sold out in an hour. But the startup says it will sell the burger in more stores soon, so stay tuned.