2019 was the year of fake burgers. Two major vegan burgers -- Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger -- hit the markets, and both were picked up by major restaurant chains. Both make the claim that they are essentially indistinguishable from burgers made from ground beef.

Beyond Burger is currently available at Carl's Jr., T.G.I. Friday's, and Yard House, among others, and a variant is also available in meatball form at Subway. However, I think it is safe to say that Beyond Burger went the grocery store route, being carried in at least 30 major supermarket chains, as compared to Impossible Burger's 3(ish); meanwhile Impossible Burger went heavily into the restaurant trade, including Burger King, White Castle, The Cheesecake Factory, and Red Robin, among others.

This also means that I can write a good review of the Beyond Burger simply by making a quick trip to my local Aldi... or any other grocery story in town.

First off, yes, it does taste like a real burger. In fact, it tastes quite a bit like a homemade burger, rather than the more common fast-food grease puck. This was quite surprising, because it does not smell like a meat patty while cooking (it does smell good, but not like hamburger meat). I found it interesting that while I often detect an unpleasant off-note in hamburger grease, the Beyond Burger has an exact analog to this flavor, except one slightly tweaked so that I find it enjoyable. This very much appears to be unique to me, and meat eaters and vegans alike reliably report simply that it tastes like standard meat.

It is worth noting that it produces delicious, delicious grease as it cooks, and if you like to, for example, pan fry french fries or toast a bun in your hamburger grease, you can still do that. It is also worth noting that Beyond Burgers are designed to be good for the Earth, and not your arteries; while this grease may be slightly better for you than beef fat, the nutritional info on the box doesn't cast any illusions as to how much saturated fat you are eating. These are not healthy burgers; Beyond Burger has 6 grams of saturated fat, Impossible Burger has 8 grams, and beef has 7.6 grams.

I was happy to note that the burgers store well. They are currently sold two patties in an airtight tray, and they lasted well for a couple days in the sealed box, and then the second patty lasted another couple days in the open box (covered, in the fridge) without any detectable discoloration, loss of flavor, or spoilage.

The big downside, for me at least, is the cost. Currently, you will be lucky to find them below US$2.50 a patty in the store, which means they are about twice as expensive as a Boca Burger. They are quite good, but their selling point is that they taste like meat, and they are selling to people who have mostly spent a lot of time developing alternate tastes to replace meat. I for one, will continue buying Boca Burgers or the equivalent until the price comes down, and then would only buy Beyond Burgers as an addition to my other burger-type foods, not as a replacement. However, there is a growing market for easy-veg*nism, and it looks like Beyond Burger and competitors are going to be a growing market for the foreseeable future.

Because the meat and dairy industry tend to get persnickety -- and litigious -- when you look like you might be taking their customers, the Beyond Burger is officially labeled the "Beyond Meat Plant-Based Burger Patties." No one says that.

Iron Noder

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