A couple of days ago I tried All Bar One’s pop-up Veganuary fully plant-based burger. I was unsure what to expect with my burger. It was the revolutionary Beyond Meat burger, but it tasted and looked like meat. This whole concept blew my mind - it came with vegan cheese and mayo and also lettuce and tomato, making it look even more like a loaded beef burger.
I trusted that it was vegan, but I still wasn’t sure because of how meat like it looked; it was weird and slightly creeped me out. Unlike ‘lab-grown’ meats, the Beyond burger is made entirely from plants and therefore does not use animal stem-cells in production. I have since discovered that each patty contains 20g of pea protein, coconut oil, potato starch and uses beetroot juice to ooze or ‘bleed’ a meaty red hue.
I haven’t eaten meat in around six years, and therefore I have always thought I would have forgotten what meat actually tastes like. However as soon as I bit into the burger, it brought back the familiarity of the meat texture and smell. It was slightly less chewy than a beef burger as far as I can remember, which is something I liked. It was essentially like eating a soft medium-rare burger.
This just showed me how far vegan and vegetarian products have come. Beyond Meat has used elements in the plant world to rebuild ‘meat’ without sacrificing on taste or texture. This process of combining plant-sources, without the animal, requires fewer resources, making it a much more efficient and sustainable process.
More people are shifting toward vegan or vegetarian diets, which have been increasingly more evident this Veganuary, with people apparently signing up every 3.5 seconds. According to The Vegan Society, the number of vegans in the UK has doubled twice in the past four years to 600,000 in 2018. I feel that vegans are perceived to be healthier, and also growing concerns about animal welfare and the environmental impact of intensive animal farming are impacting views on food.
I am always looking for nutrient dense substitute meat products and vegan-friendly convenience foods, therefore I understand why Beyond Meat is so popular. They believe that they can positively and significantly impact four growing issues attributed to livestock production and consumption: human health, climate change, natural resource depletion, and animal welfare.
Beyond Meat could be the future of sustainable protein. These burgers use 99% less water, 93% less land, 46% less energy than that of meat production. Although, in a meal I don’t necessarily want it to taste or look like meat, these Beyond Burger would be amazing for individuals who are trying to reduce their meat consumption, but don’t want to miss out on the beef taste. I feel that if you presented this burger to people in the street, they would never guess it was vegan.
If you are veggie or vegan, I would definitely recommend trying the burgers at least once; just don't let the look of raw hamburger scare you off!