When I first heard about the Beyond Burger, the 100 percent plant-based burger that has just landed across Canada at A&W, I was intrigued. As an omnivore, I’ve always found veggie burgers to be, at best, forgettable.
So, could the Beyond Burger—advertised as “the world’s first plant-based burger that looks, cooks, and tastes like a fresh beef burger”—actually live up to the hype? There was only one way to find out. Read on for our review.
Wait, what exactly is the Beyond Burger? What is the Beyond Burger made of?
The Beyond Burger is a 100 percent plant-based burger patty. Unlike most veggie or vegan burgers—which aren’t designed to pass for meat, and/or aren’t good enough to fool anybody—the Beyond Burger claims to be just like beef. Except it’s made from peas.
It’s made by a California company called Beyond Meat, which aims to replace animal protein with plant-based protein for many reasons, including improving human health and reducing our environmental impact. The company has garnered a ton of buzz because big names, like Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCaprio, are investors.
In the U.S., you can buy the Beyond Burger as ready-to-cook patties (they even look “bloody” because of beet juice) at grocery stores, as well as cooked burgers at restaurants. But the Beyond Burger hasn’t been available in Canada until the company partnered with A&W; you can now find it at all locations of the fast-food restaurant.
What’s the big deal about the Beyond Burger?
According to the company, the Beyond Burger is “not a veggie burger. It’s a delicious, juicy, meaty burger for true meat lovers. It just happens to be made from plants.”
Specifically, it’s made from peas, with no soy, no gluten and no GMOs. In the words of the company, their innovation is in “braiding together” plant proteins, fats and minerals to “re-create the basic architecture, and thus texture, of meat unlike any other brand or product.”
Isn’t there controversy over the A&W Beyond Burger?
Yup, when the Beyond Burger landed at A&W, there was some controversy over the fact that it’s not truly vegan when you buy it there: the fast-food chain serves it with mayo and Uncle Sauce (both contain eggs), and A&W acknowledges the patty is cooked on the same grill as beef, bacon and eggs. For omnivores like me, this may not matter, but for vegan purists, those are deal-breakers.
When the Beyond Burger eventually arrives at grocery stores in Canada, we’ll be able to cook it the way we want. (The company is currently working on distribution partnerships for many countries, including Canada.)
Cut to the chase: how does the Beyond Burger taste?
Demand was so high that the first night I went to try the Beyond Burger, it was sold out. That gave me the opportunity to order a regular Mozza Burger to calibrate my tastebuds for a proper comparison.
On my second attempt to try the Beyond Burger, I enlisted my husband, Nathan, a lifelong A&W aficionado. After settling into our seats for our romantic food court date, I braced myself to bite into a burger that would supposedly “bleed” beet juice.
Fortunately, that wasn’t the case, and I thought the Beyond Burger really did look like and taste like beef; the texture was convincing. As someone who typically eats burgers once or twice a month, this plant-based substitute could have fooled me for the real thing. Nathan claims he could “definitely” tell the difference, but agreed it was good.
Overall, it was a very satisfying burger and one I’d happily order again. As for the vegan controversy, regardless of your stance, I think we can all agree it doesn’t hurt to open people’s eyes to new options—and make plant-based choices more mainstream and accessible.