A Bleeding Veggie Burger is Heading to Whole Foods

What has science done?
Publish date:
May 24, 2016
food, vegetarian, burgers, Whole Foods, Meat Substitutes

Maybe it's because I've been in Portland, Oregon a while now, or maybe it's because I'm starting to worry about my mortality, but I have been trying to enjoy a more plant-based diet. I rarely buy meat for for at-home consumption, and try to view it more as a "treat" than a staple. I've even been trying some meat and dairy substitutes and, while I'm pretty sure they're not the healthiest thing around, some of them are quite tasty. In fact, I prefer the soyrizo and soy curl burritos to the meat options at my local burrito place, and am pretty obsessed with cultured cashew "cheeze."

One thing I haven't been able to find is a veggie burger that handles my burger craving. I only really want a burger about once a month anyway, so finding a veggie sub hasn't been an urgent goal of mine, but there's a new plant-based patty from the company Beyond Meat that has me intrigued.

According to the New York Times, the Beyond Burger will be available for purchase on Monday at the Boulder, Colorado, Whole Foods, and some are saying it's a pretty good stand in:

Tom Rich, vice president of purchasing and distribution in the Denver region of Whole Foods Market where the Beyond Burger will first be sold, says there is a growing interest in alternative protein sources.

The Beyond Burger, said Mr. Rich, a vegetarian, “tasted and felt and chewed like any other burger, and on some level, I just want to be able to eat the same way everyone else eats.”

Given the fact that Mr. Rich is a vegetarian, I'm not sure I totally trust him to be a fair judge on what tastes and chews like "any other burger." I don't think he's lying; I just don't know when he last had a burger made of beef. It could have been years ago, and perhaps the memories have faded.

Taste and mouthfeel aside, the most interesting quality this Beyond Burger possesses is the ability to "bleed" thanks to beets.

I'm not totally sure who this feature is for. A lot of the vegetarians I know don't want their food to bleed and, as a meat eater, this approaches a kind of neither-here-nor-there uncanny valley sort of situation. In short, it feels kind of off-putting for everyone involved.

I'm probably being slightly pedantic here, but I also feel compelled to point out that the red liquid you see in rare-ish meat is not, in fact, blood. It's "myoglobin," a protein that stores oxygen in red blood cells, and it is what makes "red meat" red. But anyway.

All of that being said, I'm cautiously excited about the idea of a delicious, plant-based burger, and will try the Beyond Burger as soon as it gets to Portland which, let's be honest, probably won't take that long, because Portland lives and breathes for this type of thing.

Would you try the Beyond Burger? Do you think the beet myoglobin is a pro or a con? What's your favorite vegetarian substitute? I'm always looking to try new ones.