- New companies focused on creating plant-based alternatives to animal-derived meats are on the rise. They aim to re-create the meat-eating experience with veggie burgers that smell, sear, and “bleed” like beef.
- Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are two young companies that have developed cutting-edge veggie burgers.
- The products can now be found at a Major League Baseball stadium, at TGI Friday’s, and at major grocery chains nationwide.
- We tasted burgers from the two companies to see which was better.
Raising meat for human consumption is tough on the environment. More than one-third of all raw materials in the US are devoted to raising animals for food, according to the animal-rights group PETA, and it takes 1,847 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef.
To combat this, new companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are exploring new ways to create sustainable meat alternatives.
While there have long been plenty of soy-based meat alternatives on the market, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods aim to be different. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods don’t create “lab-grown meat” – a separate innovation that involves growing actual meat in a lab – yet their burgers still smell, sear, and “bleed” as beef does, aiming to please meat eaters by re-creating the experience of eating animal-derived meat without the ethical and environmental drawbacks.
Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCaprio are among investors who have partnered with Beyond Meat to help propel its success. Since launching in 2016, Beyond Meat has sold more than 11 million of its Beyond Burgers, which can now be found at TGI Friday’s and in grocery stores nationwide.
Impossible Foods, on the other hand, recently raised an additional $US114 million in venture funding in a round led by Singapore’s Temasek and Sailing Capital. Most recently, the Impossible Burger made its debut (for a limited time) at Disney’s California Adventure and at the Oakland Coliseum, home of the Oakland A’s.
We set out to taste both vegan burgers at Bareburger and TGI Friday’s in New York City, and while both burgers are healthy and sustainable alternatives to meat, we had a clear favourite:
First I went to a Bareburger in downtown Manhattan, one of the few locations that has the Impossible Burger on the menu.
When my food arrived, I almost thought I was delivered the wrong meal. The Impossible Burger looked exactly like a hamburger. I ordered it with vegan cheese, lettuce, and tomato on a sprout bun.
It definitely seared the way a hamburger would. The Impossible Burger relies on a plant-derived ingredient called heme for its meaty feel and look. It’s made from wheat, coconut oil, and potatoes.
The inside of the burger certainly looked more like beef than a veggie burger. It didn’t “bleed,” but it did have a pink hue on the inside, and it tasted a lot more like beef than any other veggie burger I’ve had. The texture was also very similar to beef, and the burger was juicy.
After Bareburger, I headed to TGI Friday’s, which has the Beyond Burger on the menu at all locations. The burger is also available in many grocery chains across the US.
I ordered the burger as listed on the menu, minus the cheese and sauce. As with the Impossible Burger, it looked exactly like a hamburger.
It also smelled strongly like a hamburger, more so than the Impossible Burger did.
It seared and charred the way a hamburger would. Beyond Meat’s burger — made from yeast extract, coconut oil, and peas — appears to bleed because of the addition of beets.
The inside of the burger was red, but this burger didn’t “bleed” either. It also was drier than the Impossible Burger. The textures of the two burgers were different, but both resembled beef more than a typical veggie burger would.
Both the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger looked, smelled, and tasted like beef — it was clear that the goal of each company was to appeal to meat eaters. Both burgers were delicious and show how far meat substitutes have come. But, overall, the Impossible Burger had a better texture and flavour.
It tasted enough like beef to satisfy a meat eater but certainly should not turn away a vegan or vegetarian.
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