An alternative source of protein? At a fast food place?
by Alexander Quebec
Vegan and Vegetarian alternatives to many everyday foods are on trend right now. Of course, living in California, we’re accustomed to everything from the passive aggressive vegan who makes thinly veiled guilt trips about those carne asada fries you’re eating all the way to the militant vegan whose crusade to ensure every man, woman and child is made aware of their mass murderer status and everyone else in between, with both being boosted by a sense of smug, moral superiority. (Which in my opinion, turns people off from the idea of being a vegetarian or vegan)
Yeah, we’re tired of them too. But to be frank, there may be something that can be gained from their experience. Plant based diets do have a whole host of benefits: weight loss, lower blood pressure, all the sorts of things that come part and parcel to the contemporary American Diet.
Seeing the trend to go meatless, many companies are coming out of the woodwork with vegan based alternatives for the things we’re already consuming. Take Redwood City based Impossible Foods for example, founded in 2011, they have made it their mission to create plant based alternatives for animal meats we normally consume. Using a bit of science (well, a lot of it actually), they aim to create a substitute for animal based meat that will not only save some animal lives, but also save valuable natural resources and reduce the environmental impact that raising livestock for meat entails. They’ve paired up with several restaurant chains throughout the US to bring their miracle meat to the masses.
Carl’s Jr. is one of the first fast food chains to offer the impossible burger to the masses. You can usually get them at places like Red Robin or The Counter, but what about those of us in a hurry? Or who just need to get in and out very quickly? Carl’s Jr. released the Beyond Burger in their Famous Star, but on a seperate visit, I also tried it out as their Western Bacon BBQ sandwich (at an additional charge).
So, What’s in the Impossible Burger?
According to their website, the Beyond Burger is made of a genetically modified soy based plant source that mimics what is called Heme, which is short for soy leghemoglobin. “It’s an essential molecule found in every living plant and animal — most abundantly in animals “ according to their website. While there is a process to extract the heme from the root of the soy plant, inserting the DNA into yeast, which is then fermented in a manner similar to beer making, makes it more feasible to mass produce the heme for a larger market.
How was the burger?
I can honestly say that texture wise, the Beyond had the same mouthfeel as ground beef, but a little bit drier than the real thing. It felt pretty close to the real deal, but of course, knowing you’re eating vegetable based “meat” killed the suspension of disbelief for me. Had I not known what I was eating, I probably would’ve mistaken this for just drier beef.
The flavor profile was a tad sweeter than most. Not to much sweeter, but it had a bit of a tang in the first burger I tried. I could taste a bit of liquid smoke in the meat, but then again, I wouldn’t put it past most fast food chains to put some sort of flavoring in the burgers. Them again, I’m at a fast food joint where everything is mass produced to be as cost effective to both the company and the consumer, so I feel as if I have no room to complain here.
The burger itself, for me anyways, wasn’t about the fact that no animals were harmed in the production of the burger. What stood out to me the most was how I felt after I had eaten the thing. From my experiences with vegan and vegetarian foods; they’re really good at leaving you full without leaving you heavy. I didn’t feel the need to take a nap after eating the thing, in fact, I felt a lot lighter than if I were to have eaten a regular beef patty.
So, maybe they were onto something after all.
Like the Tofurky article before hand, It will take some adjustment to get used to eating one of these, but unlike the Tofurky article. I can see myself eating one of these regularly. Change is rarely a one time thing, but more like incremental steps towards a goal. Sometimes people don’t get to that goal, but getting halfway is pretty damn good in my opinion.
If you’re looking to reduce or eliminate the meat you eat, this isn’t a bad place to start. I’m sure more solid alternatives exist out there, but for the most part, this makes the plant based protein diets a bit more accessible to most.
Cover photo: Carls Jr.
Uh-0h: In earlier posts, we called this the Impossible Burger, when it is actually the Beyond Burger. We admit the oops!