I am not one to seek out substitute meat products. I have been meat-free for far too long to care to ever taste it again. However, when I first decided to stop consuming animals back in the late 90’s, I did try imitation burger patties. One popular brand is Boca. A 90's-style Boca burger is something I have unfortunately never forgotten.
New vegan products take time to make it to our home area, and while on a recent trip to Boulder, we found ourselves in a flagship Whole Foods store after we failed to locate an open vegan restaurant. Disappointed by that, we were impressed when this Whole Foods had an entire vegan and vegetarian grill station. I had heard the hype about Beyond Meat last year as well as the science behind this company's products. On a whim, we decided to share a "burger and fries" for take-out, and ate on the drive to our destination; a vigorous hike in the Flatirons with a relative. I guess in our hunger-fueled state, the Beyond Burger matched up to traditional fast-food, and it solved our predicament. In that case it was decent. The side of fries didn't hurt the experience either.
As a consumer, I am really pleased to see a positive increase in available vegan foods in my local community. And while out grocery shopping, I recently spotted the latest meat-free burger from Beyond Meat in the frozen foods section. Their newest product is called the Beast Burger. It offers 23 grams of protein and comes in a small black cardboard box. It also costs around five bucks for two patties. For a few reasons I tossed it in my cart. I did worry about it being frozen, but then I thought about Beyond Meat’s production videos, and the ethos behind their mission. In the end, a purchase like this is really a small donation to a company that is trying to make their mark on the food industry. I had no problem giving their new product a shot as there really was no harm in trying it.
Overall, Beyond Meat is changing the meat industry by offering a variety of meat alternatives; a whole lineup of products is now available. By taking the lipids and molecules from pea plant proteins to synthesize a meat-like product, a consumer can gain a familiar meat experience and avoid all of the health issues and associated cruelty from the meat industry. Critically though, this store-bought frozen version seems to be best suited for people who have an immediate need to switch their diet, for newly minted vegans that simply feel like fitting in at a BBQ with friends, or for the empathic consumer that actually wants to make a bid to get out of consuming animal meat but still likes a "burger". I personally do not miss this type of burger experience. But I swear there's no judgement here!
I ended up prepping a meal to focus on the Beast Burger to see if it would change my mind on meat alternatives. I made homemade buns earlier in the day, sliced an onion and tomato, washed arugula, and set out a few condiments. I scrubbed a few organic russet potatoes and heated up the skillet to make fries. I then added some olive oil to the skillet, took the patties from the black box, cut open the plastic bag they came in and began to fry them. I was not pleased about the baggy, but I am sure it helps with freshness. Frying them took about eight minutes, and they sizzled and had a smell that is hard to describe. Meat-like? Yes, that could be. While cooking them, I certainly began to think this was a bad idea because 99% of the food I prepare at home is made from scratch.
I had given myself half of a burger to test. My husband thought it was good, though a bit flavorless. He then mentioned how much he enjoys the black bean burgers I frequently make. You can find that recipe here. I guess in the end it took us two experiences with Beyond Meat to know that these types of products are not for us. Perhaps the grill in the Whole Foods scenario made all of the difference? Grilling them might be part of the equation, but this is as far as we are going!