I’m not vegetarian or vegan, but I’m a big fan of veggie burgers, particularly those that taste like, well, vegetables. I’ve even written a couple of recipes of my own. But veggie burgers that try to imitate the taste and texture of meat? No thanks, I’ll pass.
At least, that’s what I used to say. The last few years have been exciting times for veggie burgers, with two extraordinarily well-funded companies—Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods—releasing plant-based burgers that they claim not only smell and taste like meat but look, handle, and cook like meat as well.
If you shop in the vegan section of your supermarket, Beyond Meat is a familiar brand name. They seem to be leading the industry in currently available faux-meat products, with a line of chicken strips, crumbles, burger patties, and frozen meals. Though not widely available across the country just yet, their Beyond Burger, a pea protein–based patty, was the first consumer-market-ready vegan burger patty to “bleed” like real meat,* thanks to the magic color of beet juice.
* Okay, smarty-pants, we all know that real ground beef doesn’t technically bleed, and that what you’re really looking at is myoglobin, the red muscle pigment, as opposed to hemoglobin, the blood pigment. Got that out of your system? Let’s move on.
Back in June, Eater posted a summary of the reactions from various other food websites that had gotten their hands on a box of patties and tasted them. From their report, it sounded almost too good to be true. “Nobody could believe how good it was.” “It was tasty and juicy, unlike most veggie burgers which can often taste closer to cardboard than beef.” “Undeniably fresh.” The Impossible Burger has been getting similarly positive reviews.