What is a burger without meat?
Diehard carnivores might answer, “A travesty.”
But even they might change their minds after a bite of the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Meat Burger. Both are entirely plant-based patties that closely mimic beef burgers. And both are now available in the Bay Area for vegetarians and the curious to enjoy.
Impossible Burger is the creation of Redwood City’s Impossible Foods. It is fashioned from wheat, coconut oil, potatoes, and heme, a compound in plants and meat, which gives meat its characteristic aroma and taste.
Compared to raising cows for burgers, the Impossible Burger uses 95 percent less land, 74 percent less water, and creates 87 percent less greenhouse gas emissions. It’s also free of hormones, antibiotics and artificial ingredients. And you don’t have to worry about slaughterhouse cross-contamination.
El Segundo’s Beyond Meat Burger is similarly environmentally-friendly, and is fashioned from pea protein, yeast extract, coconut oil, beet extract and annatto extract.
Last fall, Jardiniere and Cockscomb, both in San Francisco, started serving the Impossible Burger. Jardiniere serves the $16 burger at night in the bar on a first come, first serve basis, while Cockscomb sells it for $19 for lunch on weekdays.
And in December, the Beyond Meat Burger debuted for $12.95 at all Veggie Grill locations, the first fast-casual restaurant to feature it.
I’ve had a chance to try both, though, not side by side. The verdict? They both have the juiciness and texture of a good ground meat burger. I wouldn’t say either of them had the really robust irony taste of beef. They’re more mild tasting like a turkey or chicken patty. I found the Beyond Meat Burger more highly seasoned and flavorful, with the Impossible Burger more delicate tasting.
Both are big steps up from those precooked veggie hockey pucks of yesteryear we all know only too well.
Garnished with all the regular burger accoutrements, both have the satisfying mouthfeel you want in a burger. I am neither vegetarian or vegan, but I would happily eat either of these plant-based burgers again.
To learn more about the Impossible Burger, see my story in Silicon Valley magazine, “Rebooting the Food Industry.” And to read more about the Beyond Meat Burger at Veggie Grill, see my story in that same magazine’s March/April issue.