Organic burger

Beyond Meat and Veggie Grill team up for a “rare” burger

Veggie Grill, the chain of all-vegan and casual restaurants has just added a revolutionary burger to its menu: Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger.

Beyond meat, the El Segundo, Calif.-based plant-based meat company has had an exciting few months. After the success of Whole Foods’ initial launch of its Beyond Burger over the summer – the veggie burger that’s almost indistinguishable from beef (it sold out in less than an hour – from the meat counter, no less) – the company also secured funding from Tyson Foods, the world’s largest producer of meat, poultry and pork products, for a 5% stake in the company.

The Beyond Burger is served in a traditional burger style: iceberg lettuce (yes, it still exists!), tomatoes, slice of melty vegan cheese, special sauce and, of course, a sesame seed bun. It is served with a generous portion of fries.

There are several reasons the Beyond Burger is such a hit: it has a dense, meaty texture that’s much more like beef burgers than the brown rice and lentil patties that have been passed off as burgers for years. There is indeed a pink – meaty feel – to the burger, which comes from the juice of beets instead of the juice of what was once a thousand pound beef.

And when people say it’s indistinguishable from beef, they really aren’t far off. It’s a weird feeling knowing that although it looks, tastes and smells like a traditional burger, it’s actually a pea protein patty made with no soy, no GMOs. This is the future of food. And it’s damn tasty.

In a side-by-side comparison on its website, Beyond Meat notes that the quarter-pound Beyond Burger beats what it calls “animal-based beef” in a number of categories. The Beyond Burger has 20 grams of protein compared to the beef burger’s 19; it has double the iron (hello, beets!), half the saturated fat and zero grams of cholesterol. It is also free of antibiotics and hormones.

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As a vegan for over twenty years, I was more than excited to try this product. I dragged my poor, tired toddler to the Veggie Grill for the launch party, which started just before bedtime. But tell a child who’s been vegan since conception that she’s going to a vegan burger party, and she’ll be pretty damn excited (thank goodness there were balloons at the door!).

Beyond Burger certainly lives up to its meaty reputation. As exceptional as the sandwich was, I had to keep ripping off pieces of the burger by itself just to really taste it. Like fine wine, I rolled little bits of it around my mouth and smelled it so much my daughter thought I was a “dumb mom.” I certainly was. It is, after all, more than just a meal. This is a critical pivot in how we look at the definition of meat. It’s the beef industry’s worst nightmare. It just might save the planet from climate devastation. And it’s absolutely delicious.

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My daughter was much more impressed with the strawberry lemonade and fries (totally commendable as well). At first, this disappointed me. I had the impression that she must be as delighted with this realization as me! But that she accepted him as just one more “meat” is a victory in itself. To her, it’s just another (delicious) vegan protein, something we eat all the time. Like the super delicious veggie Field Roast frankfurters, or the Tofurky sausages and slices, or the Miyoko cheeses and butter she already loves to eat, a pea-based burger that tastes like beef? Even though it’s new, revolutionary!, it’s dinner at our house every night. And for a three-year-old, not as exciting as fries and strawberry lemonade – treats we don’t often have on our table. For this lifelong vegan and now mom of a young vegan, her nonchalance over “just another” veggie burger was my real treat – that she accepted it without batting an eyelid.

The Beyond Burger will launch next week at the Hollywood Veggie Grill location, and the chain plans to add it to its other locations within months.

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