Meatless Monday: They’ve figured out how to make a veggie burger that sizzles and oozes “blood”

L.A.-based meatless company Beyond Meat made headlines last month when it released the Beyond Burger.

The burger made out of pea protein quickly drew attention and sold out after debuting at Whole Foods in Boulder, Colorado. It’s selling point? It sizzles like meat on the barbecue and even “bleeds.” The blood is actually beet juice.

Investors of Beyond Meat include some heavyweights: Bill Gates of Microsoft and Vinod Khosla, a venture capitalist.

The company explained on its website its reasoning including the big question:

WHY IS IT IN THE MEAT SECTION?

Great question. Part of our Future of Protein vision is to reimagine the meat section as the Protein Section of the store. In this way, we can help people on their journey to eating more plant-based by allowing them to purchase plant-based foods in the section of the store where they are already purchasing other forms of protein. No pun intended, but we are meeting people where they are in their food journey and offering an easy switch!

WHY A BURGER FROM PLANTS THAT AIMS TO REPLICATE MEAT?

Our belief is that the best way to get people to eat less meat is by giving them what they love–in this case, a juicy delicious burger – without so many of the health, sustainability, and animal welfare downside of a traditional animal – based burger.

WHY DON’T YOU PUT THE BEYOND BURGER IN BOTH THE MEAT AND MEAT ALTERNATIVES SECTION OF THE STORE?

Dual-placement is a possibility but ultimately it’s up to the retailer. Our goal of placing The Beyond Burger™ in, at a minimum, the meat section of the store is our attempt to help attract carnivores to the category and help change that meat case to the protein case.”

WHAT KIND OF PROTEIN DO YOU USE?

The primary source of protein in The Beyond Burger™ comes from peas. It’s soy, gluten and GMO free.

HANG ON…IF THIS ISN’T BEEF, WHY ARE THE BURGERS RED?

Well, we used beets to do that! Amazing, right! We wanted to keep the whole experience of cooking burger as similar as possible for our flexitarian fans, so we’ve worked very hard to create a burger that changes color as you cook it just like animal protein.

WHY DOES THE BEYOND BURGER™ “BLEED”?

While we didn’t design The Beyond Burger™ to “bleed” per se, the beets we use to give the patty a red-meat appearance have led some in the media to remark that the burger “bleeds” beet blood.

HOW DO YOU REBUILD MEAT WITHOUT GENETICALLY MODIFYING ANYTHING?

This question gets back to the company’s basic thesis that meat’s core parts – amino acids, lipids, trace elements, carbs and minerals – don’t have exclusive residence in the animal kingdom. Our task is to eliminate the need for meat from animals and find the same or analogous materials in the plant kingdom. We are not inventing new materials but matching the plant equivalent and assembling it in the architecture of meat. And the way we do that assembly is similar to the simple process used to make pasta – we mix our plant-based ingredients, compress the mixture, and then shape it into final product (in our case, using a patty former).

HOW LONG HAD THE BEYOND BURGER BEEN IN DEVELOPMENT?

It’s really the culmination of 7+ years of work against our goal to understand meat, its composition, and associated sensory experience, better than anyone on the planet, and then rebuild that directly from plants.

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