A vegan burger that "bleeds" beet juice. Either you're instantly intrigued by this statement, or you're already walking, nay running, the other way.
At HuffPost Canada, we don't walk away from a food challenge. After all, we were there when the cronut was a thing. We've been to the CNE and sampled nitrogen crepes. Beet juice? We crush beet juice in our SLEEP (OK, not really, but you get the idea).
So when we found out A&W started selling the Beyond Meat burger at all its Canadian locations on Monday, we had to answer the burning question on
everyone's possibly at least a few people's minds: Does it taste like real meat?
Watch our taste test:
That's the bold claim A&W and partner Beyond Meat are making — that this formed patty made of distinctly non-meat ingredients like yellow pea, coconut oil, potato starch, mung bean, apple extract, pomegranate fruit powder and, yes, beet juice (which gives the raw burger its red hue and reportedly "bleeds" during the cooking process) — looks, tastes and feels like beef. (And a heads-up to vegans and vegetarians: it's topped with sauces made with eggs also cooked on the same grill as the beef burgers and breakfast eggs and bacon, which is apparently not going over very well with some folks).
We wanted to see if A&W could put their money where our mouths were, and sent three intrepid meat-eaters (and one pescatarian videographer) to taste-test, fuelled by our need to know the truth (and our rapidly dropping blood-sugar levels).
We picked up a couple of Beyond Meat burgers, as well as some Mama's beef burgers and A&W's regular Veggie Deluxe burger offering (made with rice and portobello mushrooms) for comparison's sake. We figured the control burgers would allow us to assess where the Beyond Meat burger fell on the passes-for-meat spectrum.
We assessed the burger patty on a scale of one to five on three factors: Did it look like meat? Did it taste like meat? And did it feel like meat?
Here's what our jury said:
Beyond Meat patty: Look: 3 Feel: 3.5 Taste: 4
"It was surprisingly good. The only thing that tipped me off that it wasn't meat was the colour, which was slightly orange. Otherwise, it tasted like meat to me, and better meat than the Mama Burger we sampled (though I'd normally get a Teen Burger).
"The veggie burger, meanwhile, looked awful, felt worn out and the taste ranged from mundane to foul. The veggie burger should be phased out, and the Beyond Meat burger should become a permanent item on A&W's menu."
Brian Vinh Trinh
Beyond Meat patty: Look: 4 Feel: 4 Taste: 4
"Having had both the Beyond Meat burger and A&W's beef offering in the same sitting (and raising my odds of dying of hypertension at the same time), I have to admit, I prefer the vegan burger over its meatier brother (and its sad cousin, the Veggie Deluxe).
"The beef definitely has a familiar taste but ran on the dry side towards the last few bites while the Beyond Meat burger stayed flavourful start to finish. This patty isn't going to fool anyone into thinking they're eating beef thanks to its overly orange hue but that's not the point, because this is tasty."
Beyond Meat patty: Look: 4 Feel: 4 Taste: 4
"I was fully prepared to hate this burger, because I love meat and generally dislike vegetarian versions of meat. However, I was totally into it! It actually wasn't 'bloody' and comes close to tasting like meat — you can tell by the slightly mealy texture, but otherwise, if I didn't know it wasn't meat, I'd have no idea. The flavour's pretty mild. It could be a little saltier and a little more umami. By comparison, the Mama Burger patty looked and tasted kinda grey, and the Veggie Deluxe tasted like cardboard and paste. AVOID."
And! Bonus review from our colleague in Montreal (who also had an A&W nearby):
Beyond Meat patty: Look: 3.5 Feel: 4 Taste: 4
"Looked like meat, but maybe not like beef. Reminiscent of a ham patty. A nice texture and pleasant flavour, a bit drowned out by the other elements of the burger. Texture was a good approximation. A very tasty veggie burger, but a veggie burger nonetheless. If someone switched my regular burger with this, would I notice? Yes, yes I would, but it would take a while. And if I was drunk, I might not notice at all."
Well, there you have it, folks. Looks like the Beyond Meat Burger "beet" out the real-meat Mama and the Veggie Deluxe. Will you try it? Let us know in the comments below.
CLARIFICATION: This post has been updated to clarify that the Beyond Meat burger "bleeds" beet juice during the cooking process.