A Place for Packaging Innovators

Blind taste testing a meatless burger against the “real thing?” How might you fare? I have to say, as an admitted “regular burger” consumer, it’s tough to imagine not being able to instantly tell the difference. That said, and as are many saying in the comments I’ve been reading, “Even the most ardent “burger eaters” out there are having a heck of time picking what’s real meat and not. Of course, most of us are familiar with the real damage done to the planet (and not to mention animals) by the mass production of meat for our protein needs. Countless articles have been written about the pluses of avoiding “meat,” stemming from the vegetarian angle over how it’s far more healthy to eat plants, to the environmental angle, which shows the negative planetary impact nurturing large animals for our consumption truly makes. However, “real meat” still sees a huge level of use. Yet…with plant-based, meat-fooling alternatives (and plant-based beverages) out there, and getting better and better, solid and fast-growing inroads are being made. In fact, check these recent stats from a few recent articles:

  • Plant-based food and beverage sales in 2018 exceeded $3.7 billion in the United States, rising 17% over 2017, and there are few signs the pace of category growth is going to decelerate (source: Food Business News article, Quoting The Good Food Institute, Washington).
  • Thirty per cent or about a third of consumers are actively trying to reduce their meat consumption, but they don’t want to sacrifice taste (source: Food Business News article, Quoting Caroline Bushnell, associate director of corporate engagement for the Good Food Institute).
  • When our editorial team tried the final product, the kitchen fell silent. Nobody could believe how good it was. The texture may have been a little soft, but overall, everyone was seriously impressed (source: Eater.com’s article which quotes Tasting Table’s review of Beyond Burger).

    Just look at this “burger” on the grill. Tough to tell… Image Courtesy: BeyondMeat.com


    Are Meatless Alternatives Healthier? Tastier?

    Well, this is a real question worth pondering. So looking into this, there is a great deal of research being done (with many new ingredients launched) that are firmly advancing the taste, texture, look and color of meatless alternatives. One burger even “bleeds (red beet juice)” as it cooks. Things have come quite far since the first Gardenburger’s. I also found the following links that will allow you to dive as deep as you wish. That said, it’s not a complete panacea. Here’s a nutrition-based quote from Livestrong.com to kick this element off:

    In general, you’ll get less fat and calories and more fiber in veggie burgers than in their beef counterparts. The downside is veggie burgers are higher in sodium — although still in a moderate range — and lower in protein. When you eat veggie burgers, you typically get three times less total fat and seven times less saturated fat than when you eat average beef burgers, according to the American Dietetic Association. You also consume 3 to 4 grams of fiber, whereas beef burgers have no fiber.
    Here are some additional links to explore this topic:

  • Food Business News article “Plant protein innovation is accelerating”
  • Eater.com’s article The Verdict Is in on Beyond Burger, the Meatless Burger That ‘Bleeds’
  • Livestrong’s article Vegetable Burgers vs. Beef

    My Own Taste Testing Plans

    O.K. So I’m on a mission now. Consider this article step 1 of 2. I’ll be making my (semi-famous) tacos with the Beyond Meat’s Meatless Crumbles…Feisty Version. I’ll work to test a few folks “blind” to see how they react. Hopefully I can get a few good pics of people being amazed (assuming they are amazed) with the great, meatless taste. Now…just to keep a watch on the sodium…


    My personal test will be cooking my (semi) famous tacos with this Beyond Beef Feisty Crumble. Reporting back soon… Image Composition: Dan Meyers; Individual Images: BeyondBeef and Auguson Farm


    AUTHOR: Dan Meyers