When we first heard about the Beyond Burger, we knew we had to try it—for better or worse. Be warned: The new, plant-based burger from California-based company Beyond Meat isn't your ordinary veggie burger. It looks, tastes and feels like real ground beef. We didn't believe it either . . . until we tried it.
Thanks to careful engineering that aims to mimic meat protein on a molecular level, the burger is almost indistinguishable in appearance and texture from one made with fresh ground meat. The patty is made with pea protein, a mix of canola and coconut oil to achieve the right fat content, and beet juice for coloring. (If you've heard people talking about how the burger "bleeds" like real meat, that's where the beet juice comes in.)
When the burger cooks—three minutes on both sides if frozen, two and a half minutes on either side if thawed—you can see fat visibly rendering in the pan. (Just don't cook it in the microwave.)
When our editorial team tried the final product, the kitchen fell silent. Nobody could believe how good it was. The texture may have be a little soft, but overall, everyone was seriously impressed. We didn't hate it, and neither do the customers at the Boulder Whole Foods who bought out the first supply in less than an hour.
"It's a seminal moment, because the burger is in the meat case," a representative from Beyond Meat tells us. Sorry vegetarians: Instead of searching in a sea of black bean burgers in the frozen foods aisle, you'll have to brave the butcher counter for these guys.
The reason? Though Beyond Meat founder and CEO Ethan Brown is a longtime vegan, his goal with Beyond Burger is to appeal to meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Same goes for the company's other products, like plant-based Beyond Chicken Strips and Beyond Beef Crumbles. Placing the burgers next to other fresh proteins is part of that effort.
The Beyond Burger will soon be available at an as-yet unconfirmed Whole Foods on the East Coast, and nationwide distribution will follow.
To infinity and Beyond!