I love cheeseburgers, but the harmful environmental effects of raising beef has all but sapped my appetite for them. Which is why I’m so excited by alterna-meats (or whatever we’ll wind up calling them), and why I was even more excited to see that my local grocer has finally started carrying Beyond Meat burger patties.
Filled with the same adventurous spirit Mike and Catherine had on their recent Impossible foods field trip, I snapped up a package of Beyond Meat burgers and rushed home to do my own taste test.
We’ve written a lot about Beyond Meat. They use pea protein as the basis for their burgers and have celebrity backers like Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCaprio. Their company wants stores to stock their burgers in the meat aisle, which is not without controversy.
Unlike earlier incarnations of “veggie burgers,” which often just substituted beans, soy, or tofu for beef and called it a day, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are trying to replicate the experience of eating meat. So have they succeeded?
Hell yes they have.
Beyond Meat burgers probably won’t fool any die-hard carnivores (they don’t “bleed” like Impossible burgers), but if you don’t have to have beef, this is an excellent substitute. When I sampled them, I found Beyond Meat burgers flavorful and light, with a pleasing texture that was beef-like.
Which is good, because Beyond Meat burgers are not cheap. It was $6.49 for just two patties. Despite Beyond Meat’s marketing demands, their burgers were located in the meat alternative section in the freezer aisle, instead of in between the ground beef and sausage links.
Frozen, they look just like thick beef patties. As they cook, they don’t brown very much, staying pretty rose-colored. I cooked my patties frozen, which, in retrospect, was a mistake. It required a longer cook time to warm the middle and I feel I may have overcooked the outside. Next time I’ll thaw them out fully before putting them on the stove.
Once cooked, I covered my burger with cheese and slid it on to a bun. I decided to eat it without any ketchup or mustard or other added flavorings to get the best sense of its taste. Beyond Meat definitely has that umami flavor, but the word that lingers most as I think back on eating it is… springy. The burger felt light and delicate — without being fragile — but it also had this elasticity to it. This gave it more of a meat texture, though it didn’t feel as dense or heavy as beef.
The biggest sensation I got from my experience eating a Beyond Meat burger was excitement. I loved every bite. And I can’t wait to make another one. I’d like the price to come down a bit, if only to entice more people to try it, but I’m sure that will come. Until then, I’m just happy to be eating cheeseburgers without any guilt.