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Burger taste test: Impossible Foods versus Beyond Meat

We pit two plant-based, meat substitutes in a burger-off.

Vegan burger patties that bleed might sound like a horror movie plot for vegetarians, but it isn’t. it is reality. Five years ago, The Peak wrote about a new breed of meat, derived from vegetable protein and made to taste like beef. It sounded like a bad futuristic joke then, but guess what: The future is now.

Beyond Burger, which features Beyond Meat’s patties, made a quiet debut in Singapore last year and, in recent months, Impossible Foods has been beating a fast and furious chase, with high-profile restaurants serving some unique creations made from its plant protein.

(RELATED: These plant-based patties taste just like meat)

The global plant protein market was valued at US$10.6 billion (S$14.3 billion) in 2017, and the meat alternative is set to be a big driver. The big boys all know this: Li Ka Shing is cashing in on the trend by putting his money on Impossible Foods, while Bill Gates has backed both Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

Closer to home, Temasek Holdings led a US$75 million investment round for Impossible Foods in 2017. But the proof of the patty is in the eating, so let’s cut the fat and get to the beef.

  • Beyond Meat Burger

    BEYOND MEAT

    ORIGIN

    The 10-year-old Los Angeles-based company’s first product was a chicken substitute that was launched in 2013; the beef substitute was introduced in 2014. The patty’s main ingredients are water, pea protein isolate, canola oil and refined coconut. And, while the company has its own production facilities in the United States, it also works with co-manufacturers.

    HOW THE MEAT TASTE IS CREATED

    While the main ingredients create the heft and juiciness of a beef burger, yeast extract is added to give it a more meaty taste. Beet juice extract is also added so that the patties “bleed” as they are being cooked – just as real meat does.

    NUTRITIONAL VALUE

    Each 113g patty contains 270 calories and 5g saturated fat (25% of daily value, or DV, based on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet). It also contains 380mg sodium (16% of DV), 3g dietary fibre (13% of DV) and 20g protein (32% of DV).

    TASTE

    The Beyond Burger from Lime Restaurant strikes a pretty picture with its charcoal burger buns, crimson beetroot slices and yellow vegan cheese. However, the Beyond Meat patty, with its crumbly texture and muted brown hue, didn’t look quite as appetising. Taste-wise, it’s a decent vegan patty, but fails to deliver the savoury punch of a real meat patty.

    HOW IT CAN BE SERVED ASIDE FROM IN A BURGER

    At Pizza Express, curried Beyond Meat mince is used both as a pizza topping and in its pasta. Outside of Singapore, tacos and burritos made with the same mince can also be found. The meat substitute is also available in sausage form.

    AVAILABILITY IN SINGAPORE

    Sold at Lime Restaurant, Wolf Burgers, Mezza9 at Grand Hyatt, Pizza Express, and at select grocery stores such as Fairprice Finest and Little Farms.

(RELATED: Are plant-based meats just a fad or paving the way for the future?)