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The Impossible Burger vs. Beyond Burger: The Best Plant Based Meats

JW Lewis
  • The Impos­si­ble Burg­er and Beyond Meat are two new food tech com­pa­nies that are focused on repli­cat­ing the taste of beef using plant-based alter­na­tives.
  • The goal is a plant based meat that looks, smells, tastes, and even bleeds like real beef
  • Beyond Meat has embraced a tra­di­tion­al retail / gro­cer mod­el (e.g. Whole Foods, Tar­get) where­as the Impos­si­ble Burg­er is only avail­able (cur­rent­ly) in select restau­rants*
Plant Based Meat Patties

The Impos­si­ble Burg­er Pat­ties

* The Impos­si­ble Burg­er expect­ed to be avail­able in select stores in ear­ly 2Q/2019

beyond meat burger

Beyond Meat Burg­er Pat­ties

Com­pa­nies such as the Impos­si­ble Burg­er and Beyond Meat are on the bleed­ing edge (no pun intend­ed) of tech­nol­o­gy to devel­op inno­v­a­tive ways to cre­ate a sus­tain­able, veg­an prod­uct that sat­is­fies the need and desires of meat eaters while most impor­tant­ly spar­ing the envi­ron­ment from the enor­mous resource demands required to pro­duce beef. From an envi­ron­men­tal stand­point, rais­ing live­stock for the sole pur­pose of meat con­sump­tion is dam­ag­ing to the plan­et as a whole. A recent study by PETA found that over 1/3 of all raw mate­ri­als in the Unit­ed States is nec­es­sary for the rais­ing and con­sump­tion of live­stock. The amount of arable ded­i­cat­ed to ranch graz­ing cou­pled with the enor­mous bur­den of fresh water to pro­duce beef is an unsus­tain­able mod­el should glob­al pop­u­la­tion con­tin­ue to grow.

One thing to note for both prod­ucts, these are NOT the soy / veg­gie burg­ers you may be accus­tomed to. The aim of each is to repli­cate the fla­vor, sear, and look of a tra­di­tion­al beef burg­er. Both were for­mu­lat­ed using dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of pro­teins (wheat, soy, pea) as well as var­i­ous bind­ing agents. Due to some clever bio-engi­neer­ing, both will actu­al­ly bleed when cut — due to the addi­tion of beets which gives each the real­is­tic col­or­ing nec­es­sary.

Both com­pa­nies are backed and fund­ed by some pow­er­ful part­ners. Beyond Meat most notably notes Leonar­do DiCaprio and Bill Gates as ear­ly seed investors. They boast oth­er meat alter­na­tives such as their pork sausages, chick­en strips, and ground beef crum­bles. They are avail­able at most major gro­cers and have sold over 13 mil­lion pat­ties nation­wide.

Impos­si­ble Foods is a new­er entrant (est. 2011) that raised $75M in 2017 via a con­vert­ible note and recent­ly raised a whop­ping $114M in ven­ture cap­i­tal fund­ing. It’s avail­able at over 5,000 restau­rants across the US. You can find a restau­rant that serves their prod­ucts via their loca­tor. Impos­si­ble Foods is seek­ing to offer not only alter­na­tive to ground meat, but plant based meat sub­sti­tutes for chick­en, eggs, fish, and steak. They are even work­ing on a sub­sti­tute for cheese.


Beyond Meat Burger

Beyond Meat Burger

The Beyond Meat Burg­er

Pros

  • Looks / smells great! No dif­fer­ent than a real burg­er
  • Great sear / char
  • Burg­er did “bleed” real­is­ti­cal­ly

Cons

  • A bit dry, even when cooked to a medi­um / medi­um-well tem­per­a­ture
  • Dif­fi­cult to cook to achieve the desired result (medi­um to medi­um-well temp)
  • After taste and tex­ture was clos­er to a veg­gie burg­er than a real one

We bought two pat­ties from our local Whole Foods.  The cost was around $5 and they were locat­ed in a refrig­er­at­ed cool­er.  We cooked one of the burg­ers on a non­stick pan on our stove­top.  What became clear right away was the siz­zle that we heard upon plac­ing the burg­er on the pan.  It felt like we were cook­ing a reg­u­lar burg­er.  We dropped a slice of sharp ched­dar on top about a minute before we felt it was done.

We then placed the ful­ly cooked burg­er on a Sesame roll with let­tuce, toma­toes, onions, and sliced dill pick­le.  Topped it with a bit of mayo and ketchup to com­plete the build.

Hon­est­ly, when look­ing at it from afar it was indis­tin­guish­able from a real burg­er.  When we took the ini­tial bite, we were even more shocked as the crunch and “bleed” was eeri­ly sim­i­lar to a burg­er.  There were a few areas we took issue with.  Even though we cooked it to a medi­um (pink mid­dle), it tast­ed a bit dry — more than we were expect­ing.  Addi­tion­al­ly, the after taste just didn’t taste right.  It cer­tain­ly didn’t taste bad but it didn’t taste quite like a burg­er.


The Impossible Burger

the impossible burger

The Impos­si­ble Burg­er

Pros

  • Looks / smells great! No dif­fer­ent than a real burg­er
  • Excel­lent meat-like tex­ture
  • After taste is super juicy with an eeri­ly rich meat-like fla­vor

Cons

  • Sear / char was just ‘ok’
  • Did not bleed but did have a real­is­tic pink­ish hue when cooked medi­um / medi­um-well
  • Unavail­able (cur­rent­ly) for retail pur­chase

Where­as the Beyond Meat Burg­er is avail­able at a gro­cer the Impos­si­ble Burg­er is not.  For now, Impos­si­ble Burg­er is only avail­able at select restau­rants.  To find the clos­est restau­rant that serves one, you can use their find­er here.  The clos­est restau­rant to us that served the Impos­si­ble Burg­er was a Bar Louie (Chica­go bar / restau­rant chain).  One of the more notable part­ners is White Cas­tle which now proud­ly car­ries the Impos­si­ble Burg­er as part of it’s sand­wich line­up.  Addi­tion­al­ly, you’ll soon be able to order an Impos­si­ble Burg­er at Burg­er King as they have recent­ly  announced their part­ner­ship on a pilot pro­gram with select fran­chisees in the US.

Our wait­er at Bar Louie told us that they had actu­al­ly upgrad­ed to a new recipe of the Impos­si­ble Burg­er, i.e. Ver­sion 2.  We were told that a num­ber of changes were made to give the burg­er an even more real­is­tic, burg­er like taste.  We ordered one with the same bun / extras as our Beyond Burg­er to keep the com­par­i­son as close as pos­si­ble.

The first thing we noticed is that the Impos­si­ble Burg­er passed the eye-test.  It looked exact­ly like a reg­u­lar burg­er.  Upon first bite, we noticed that the tex­ture and crunch was amaz­ing.  We didn’t notice the bleed that we did with the Beyond Burg­er but it still was juicy and incred­i­bly meat-like.  The after-taste is what real­ly astound­ed us.  That mouth­wa­ter­ing, ‘uma­mi’ taste you remem­ber with a burg­er was eeri­ly almost the same.  We believe this is due to the addi­tion of “heme”.  Long sto­ry short, the rea­son meat tastes like meat is because of this pro­tein that you’ll found in all meat.  The sci­en­tists at Impos­si­ble Burg­er have some­how repli­cat­ed this mol­e­cule via plant based meat sub­sti­tutes and the result is seri­ous­ly incred­i­ble.

Like we said, our one major regret is that the Impos­si­ble Burg­er is not avail­able for retail pur­chase.  Not to fret as we were been told that it will be avail­able at most major gro­cers as ear­ly as March 2019.


Conclusions

If you would have told us even 3 years ago, that a real­is­tic, “meat-like” veg­gie burg­er exist­ed, we would have looked upon it with a lot of skep­ti­cism.  How­ev­er, the Impos­si­ble Burg­er and the Beyond Burg­er have more than exceed­ed our expec­ta­tions.  Though we real­ly liked cer­tain parts of the Beyond Meat burg­er, we have to give the nod to the Impos­si­ble Burg­er.  The addi­tion of the mag­i­cal ‘heme’ pro­tein is what puts it over the edge.  The after-taste is so close to the real thing.  Had we done a blind taste test, we would hon­est­ly not have been able to tell the dif­fer­ence.

 


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