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Strategy: We tried burgers from 2 companies that want to replace meat with veggie patties that ‘bleed’ — and the winner is clear
PublishedBy: in Business Insider/StrategyApril 11, 2018

The Beyond Meat Burger from TGI Friday's

The Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger both contain lab-grown meats — but here's which one tastes better.

  • New companies focused on creating "clean meats" — or plant-based alternatives to animal-derived meats — are on the rise. They aim to recreate the meat-eating experience with lab-grown burgers that smell, sear, and "bleed" like beef.
  • Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are two young companies that are paving the way in creating lab-grown meat.
  • The products can now be found at a Major League Baseball stadium, TGI Friday's, and major grocery chains nationwide.
  • We tasted burgers from the two companies to see which one was better.

Raising meat for human consumption is tough on the environment. More than one-third of all raw materials in the US are devoted to raising animals for food, according to PETA, and it takes 1,847 gallons of water to produce just a single pound of beef.

To combat this, new companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are exploring new ways to create sustainable meat alternatives in a lab rather than source it from animals.

While there are already plenty of soy-based meat alternatives on the market, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods aim to be different. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods don't create "fake meat" — their lab-grown burgers smell, sear, and "bleed" like beef does, aiming to please meat-eaters by recreating the experience of eating animal-derived meat without the ethical and environmental drawbacks.

Investors like Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCaprio have partnered with Beyond Meat to help propel its success. Since launching in 2016, Beyond Meat has sold more than 11 million of its Beyond Burgers, which can now be found at TGI Friday's and in grocery stores nationwide.

Impossible Foods, on the other hand, recently raised an additional $114 million in venture funding in a round led by Singapore's Temasek and Sailing Capital. Most recently, the Impossible Burger made its debut (for a limited time) at Disney's California Adventure and at the Oakland Alameda Stadium, home of the Oakland A's.

We set out to taste both vegan burgers at Bareburger and TGI Friday's in New York City, and while both burgers are healthy and sustainable alternatives to meat, we had a clear favorite:

First I went to a Bareburger in Downtown Manhattan, one of the few locations that has the Impossible Burger on the menu.

When my food arrived, I almost thought they delivered the wrong meal. The Impossible Burger looked exactly like a hamburger. I ordered it with vegan cheese, lettuce, and tomato on a sprout bun.

It definitely seared like a hamburger would. The Impossible Burger relies on a plant-derived ingredient called heme for its meaty feel and look. It's made from wheat, coconut oil, and potatoes.

The inside of the burger certainly looked more like beef than a veggie burger. It didn't "bleed," but it did have a pink hue on the inside, and it tasted a lot more like beef than any veggie burger I've ever had. The texture was also very similar to beef, and the burger was juicy.

After Bareburger, I headed to TGI Friday's, which has the Beyond Burger on the menu at all locations. The burger is also available in many grocery chains nationwide.

I ordered the burger as listed on the menu, minus the cheese and sauce. Just like the Impossible Burger, it looked exactly like a hamburger.

It also smelled strongly like a hamburger, more so than the Impossible Burger did.

It seared and charred like a hamburger would. Beyond Meat's burger — made from yeast extract, coconut oil, and peas — appears to bleed because of the addition of beets.

The inside of the burger was red, but this burger didn't "bleed" either. It also was more dry than the Impossible Burger. The textures of the two burgers were different, but both resembled beef more than a veggie burger.

Both the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger looked, smelled, and tasted like beef — it was clear that the goal of each company was to appeal to meat eaters. Both burgers were delicious and prove that lab-grown meat can be a viable menu option and an alternative to meat. But, overall, the Impossible Burger had a better texture and flavor.

It tasted enough like beef to satisfy a meat-eater, but not so much so that it would turn away a vegan or vegetarian.

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