The grill has long shared real estate with vegetables (and even fruit!) in a ‘sides’ capacity. But now, new plant-based foods are taking center stage, and even diehard carnivores are surprised by the realistic meat-like taste and texture of these products.
Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about the standard ‘veggie burgers’ you can find in the frozen aisle of any grocery store. Plant-based burgers that look like vegetables and taste like cardboard are not winning over meat-eaters any time soon.
The Impossible Burger
The Impossible Burger was launched in 2016 by Impossible Foods. It’s touted as THE best plant-based burger alternative due to its signature ingredient, heme. Heme is an essential molecule found in every living organism – plants and animals. Impossible Foods sources heme from the roots of soy and, when fermented, it produces a natural red colour that mimics the look, feel and taste of ground meat.
Chefs and food critics have said the Impossible Burger cooks and eats nearly identical to meat; that it even ‘bleeds’ red when cooked to medium rare and has an irony taste similar to meat. The one criticism is that it somewhat lacks the authentic ‘beefy’ umami taste. Chefs counter this by adding umami-rich toppings like mushrooms, pungent cheese, eggs, and charred peppers.
Currently, Impossible Burgers are only available in restaurants and word on the street is that demand is high and supply is low. If you want to see what all the hype is about, several restaurants, including Burger King, Applebee’s and Cheesecake Factory have some version of the Impossible Burger.
Beyond Meat Burger
The other major player in the multi-billion dollar plant-based industry is Beyond Meat with their Beyond Burger. The Beyond Burger differentiates itself by being soy and gluten-free, and is instead made with pea protein with beet extract accounting for the realistic red colour.
Chefs and critics claim the Beyond Burger cooks up and eats very much like a juicy beef burger, although it does lack the distinctive ‘beefy’ taste and aroma – just like the Impossible Burger. Some people think is had a mild coconut aftertaste, probably not surprising since coconut oils are number three and four on the Beyond Burger ingredient list.
For the most part, consumer reviews tend to favour the Beyond Burger, but that could be because it is more accessible, being available for purchase in more than 35,000 grocers worldwide. Of course, this also means that it’s very possible for you to throw a couple plant-based burgers on your grill TONIGHT!
If you’re going to give the Beyond Burger a try on your grill, we’d recommend this kimchi burger from the Beyond Burger website. Yum! Tried one of these plant-based burgers? We’d love to know your thoughts – leave a comment below!
If you’re interested in learning more about these two plant-based burgers, check out this in-depth comparison from CNet that includes the ingredient lists and reviews of each.