Bleeding Veggie Burger Patties? Trying The Beyond Burger

Perhaps, just perhaps, meat-lovers won’t have an excuse anymore

When I was 5 years old, the term “veggie burger” made me shudder. The mushy substance, packed with mysterious chunks of corn and other unknown things, wasn’t even edible topped with 5 packs of Heinz ketchup. If you told me that one day the world would present a veggie burger that tastes like beef to me, I would laugh at you in disbelief and carry on watching whatever 90’s Nickelodeon show was on.

So when I did actually discover the Beyond Burger existed, I immediately thought it sounded too good to be true. They initially went viral on the internet, thanks to the trustworthy news source Buzzfeed. They have 20 grams of plant-based protein and seem to mimic beef nearly perfectly.

According to NPR,  this type of burger that looks, tastes, and smells like beef, was invented by a former Stanford biochemist named Patrick Brown, CEO of Beyond Meat’s competitor Impossible Foods. According to Brown heme, an iron-containing molecule found in blood was key. “I had a very strong suspicion early on that heme would be the magic ingredient for flavor,” he told NPR.

Heme is the main component of red meat but is not exclusive to meat. The tricky part is mass producing it without slaughtering animals. Brown ended up doing it taking the gene in soybeans that encodes heme protein and transferring it to yeast.

“We are not inventing new materials but matching the plant equivalent and assembling it in the architecture of meat” - Beyond Meat

From the Beyond Meat website, a comparison
From the Beyond Meat website, a comparison

But heme isn’t the only component of these burgers that makes them taste so real. Brown uses a mix of coconut oil and plant proteins (think wheat, potato, and pea protein; no soy!) that gives the burgers a glorious amount of juiciness, closely mimicking fat. And the greatest part? These plant patties contain way more lean meat and fewer calories than normal beef patties.

From NPR, plant meat mixed with coconut oil is used to closely mimic the juiciness of regular beef patties
From NPR, plant meat mixed with coconut oil is used to closely mimic the juiciness of regular beef patties

So, how hard to find are these things? The good news is, you can find Beyond Burgers at Safeway. In fact, they’re even in the meat section right next to all the actual burger patties (I think that says something about how authentic they taste). The bad news is that it’s $5.00 for 2 quarter-pound patties. That’s a lot, at least in my college student book.

Still, it’s worth the every-once-in-a-while splurge to me, and besides, I’m happy to support an ethical cause. Considering the state of the meat industry (I’ll spare you the rant), these patties are far more environmentally friendly and caused no harm to cows.

So, what did I think? These things are pretty amazingly good. I’ll tell you right now, though, if you’re thinking you’re going to get a gourmet, grass-fed, medium rare delicacy of a burger, proceed to put your hopes back down. You’re going to get more of a backyard barbeque type of burger, like the ones where you go to an outdoor event you don’t really want to go to and there are some random middle-aged people who have little cooking experience and are throwing frozen patties separated by little papers that they probably bought wholesale on a giant grill they rented.

I came up with this recipe using all the best vegan condiments I know, and to get the most unbiased experience, using the same sort of ingredients I would have used if I were to eat a normal burger (I like mayo and cheese, so I found the vegan equivalents).

Here’s full list of ingredients:
Chopped green onions
Chopped tomatoes
Sliced avocado
Vegan cheese (I used Chao)
Vegan mayo (I used Follow Your Heart Vegenaise)
Vegan hamburger bun (I used Engine 2)
Beyond burger patty

For cooking the patty, I did low-medium heat for about 2 minutes each side. Since it’s made of plants, I didn’t stress too much about getting mad cow disease and the like. I covered the patty near the end to melt the cheese (vegan cheese takes some extra attention to melt). I would also recommend toasting the bun to be fancy.

Was it worth it?

Well, if you’re a die-hard vegan and are in need of a near-exact alternative to burgers, I would say it’s well worth the investment. However, there are definitely better tasting vegan meals out there, so I wouldn’t say I can see myself buying this in my regular grocery store routine. The price for two patties is just too damn high. So I would only buy these on occasion. If, though, you’re interested in trying it just for the experience of cooking a bleeding veggie patty, it’s totally fun; even for non-vegans.