How do vegan and insect burgers measure up?
The KTCHNrebel editorial team likes eating new and interesting food at least as much as they like writing about it, so they decided to taste a few for themselves. Testers sampled vegan (purely plant-based) patties by Beyond Meat and Brand C*, along with an insect protein-based option by bugfoundation.
For comparison purposes, we snuck a Block House beef burger onto their plates, too… but since they didn’t know one of the options was the real deal, we’re only rating the alternative protein patties. Of course, it wouldn’t be KTCHNrebel without a little help from some culinary expert friends: Björn Pölking, Rational’s Head of Culinary Excellence and former Head of Food Development at McDonald’s; Florian Hartmann, a former Michelin-starred chef; Andreas Deyerler, Head of Restaurants and Event Services at Rational; and Tamara Bajski, Rational culinary expert and a former product developer with Dean&David.
So what’s in those alternative burgers?
Beyond Meat’s 113-gram patties are packed with 20-grams of pea protein; This is only topped by the Impossible Burger, which has 27-grams protein per patty.
Although meat alternatives aren’t as high in calories as conventional burgers, they’re not “light” products, either— fat-free foods don’t sizzle on the grill as well, and aren’t nearly as convincing imitations of real meat— but health-conscious consumers will appreciate that options like the Impossible Food burger are very low in saturated fat.
Our six testers did a semi-blind taste test (no actual blindfolds, but without knowing which burger was which) and then rated the samples according to different criteria, using a scale of 1 (not at all) to 4 (absolutely).
The results are in!
The Beyond Meat burger (vegan but without soy) scored the highest overall, and came closest to real meat in terms of both “bite” and taste. “Beyond Meat and Brand C* are clearly aimed at flexitarians, people who sometimes decide not to eat meat, but still want that burger feeling,” says Sascha Barby, who led the test. Testers rated the two plant-based patties as particularly juicy, which was one reason that many of them said they’d be willing to offer the Beyond Meat burger to their customers (along with the insect burger).
“It plays with grill and smoke flavors nicely to compensate its lack of inherent taste.”
– Björn Pölking
Brand C* Burger
Brand C*’s plant-based option (featuring pea, soy, and wheat protein) was also rated as juicy; the raw patty looks the most similar to beef of the three, and the finished product has the most pronounced grill marks. Testers noted that it was firmer in texture than the other two.
“It’s perfect imperfection,”
Pölking says. “The raw product doesn’t look as industrially processed as others do.” The Brand C* burger lost points primarily on (after)taste and consistency, which some testers described as “artificial”.
It isn’t vegan (60% insect protein, 40% soy), but the jury rated the bugfoundation “good” on taste. Many of them were surprised to discover it was insect-based, perhaps because they deemed the bug burger drier than the others and least like meat from a visual standpoint. Even so, many of the testers said they’d serve it to their customers. Andreas Deyerler:
“It’s well-seasoned, a bit spicy on the tip of your tongue.”
Full comparision chart:
When it was all said and done, our six testers crowned the Beyond Meat burger the clear winner.
Availability and price by country
Based on our purchases we have calculated the following prices per patty. Please consider them only as reference value which varies by dealer and country! Purchased via a distributor Beyond Meat costs 2,54 EUR/patty. For the insect-based bugfoundation patty we paid 1,48 EUR/patty via a German retailer. Impossible Foods and Brand C* did not communicate their prices. Availability is as follows:
- Retail: planned for 2019
- Distributor: US, Hong Kong, Macau
- Restaurant: US, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore
- Retail: no
- Distributor: Europe, UAE
- Restaurant: UK, Germany
- Retail: US, Germany
- Distributor: US, Europe
- Restaurant: US, Canada
- Retail: Germany
- Distribution: no
- Restaurant: Netherlands, Belgium
You might also like: Demand for plant-based meat alternatives is growing rapidly.
*) the brand name has been removed at the request of the manufacturer