Beyond Meat and Veggie Grill Partner on ‘Bleeding’ Burger

IMG_0965Veggie Grill—the fast-casual all vegan restaurant chain has just added a game-changing burger to its menu: Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger.

Beyond Meat, the El Segundo, Calif., based plant meat company has had an exciting few months. After the success of its initial Whole Foods launch of its Beyond Burger over the summer—the veggie burger that’s nearly indistinguishable from beef (it sold out in less than an hour—from the meat counter, no less)—the company also secured funding from Tyson Foods, the world’s largest producer of meat, poultry, and pork products for a five percent stake in the business.

The Beyond Burger is being served in a traditional burger style: iceberg lettuce (yes, it still exists!), tomatoes, a slice of melting vegan cheese, special sauce, and, of course, a sesame seed bun. It’s served with a generous side of fries.

There are many reasons the Beyond Burger is such a hit: it’s got a dense meaty texture that much more resembles beef burgers than the brown rice and lentil patties that have passed as burgers for years. There is indeed a pinkness—a fleshy feel—to the burger, which comes from the juice of beets instead of the juice of what was once a thousand-pound steer.

@veggiegrill is officially the first restaurant in the United States to serve the #beyondburger 🍔🎉 Starting Nov 2nd, you can order one at their Hollywood location and at all Veggie Grill’s soon after! Welcome to #LA Beyond Burger.

A photo posted by Beyond Meat (@beyondmeat) on

And when people say it’s indistinguishable from beef, they’re really not far off. It’s a strange sensation knowing that while it looks, tastes, and smells like a traditional burger, it’s really a soy-free, non-GMO, pea-protein based patty. This is the future of food. And it’s darn tasty.

In a side-by-side comparison on its website, Beyond Meat notes that the quarter-pound Beyond Burger beats out what it calls “animal-based beef” in a number of categories. The Beyond Burger contains 20 grams of protein compared to the beef burger’s 19; it’s got double the iron (hello, beets!), half the saturated fat, and zero grams of cholesterol. It’s also antibiotic- and hormone-free.

As a vegan for more than twenty years, I was Beyond excited to try this product. I dragged my poor and tired toddler down to Veggie Grill for the launch party, which started just around her bedtime. But tell a vegan-since-conception kid that she’s going to a vegan burger party, and she gets pretty darn excited (thank goodness there were balloons at the door!).

Beyond Burger certainly lives up to its meaty reputation. As outstanding as the sandwich was, I had to keep tearing off chunks of the burger by itself just to truly taste it. Like fine wine, I rolled small bits of it around my mouth, and smelled it so much that my daughter thought I was being a “silly mommy.” I certainly was. This is, after all, more than just a meal. It’s a critical pivot point in how we look at the definition of meat. It’s the beef industry’s worst nightmare. It may just save the planet from climate devastation. And it’s absolutely delicious.

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My daughter was much more impressed with the strawberry lemonade and French fries (quite worthy of accolades as well). At first, this disappointed me. I felt like she should be as thrilled about this achievement as me! But that she accepted it as just another “meat” is a victory in and of itself. To her, this is just another (delicious) vegan protein, something we eat all the time. Like the super yummy Field Roast veggie frankfurters, or the Tofurky sausages and slices, or Miyoko’s cheeses and butter that she so loves to eat already, a pea-based burger that tastes like beef? Even though it’s new—revolutionary!—it’s dinner at our house on any given night. And for a three-year-old, not nearly as exciting as French fries and strawberry lemonade–treats we don’t often have on our table. For this longtime vegan and now, mom of a young vegan, her nonchalance over “just another” veggie burger was my real treat—that she accepted it without blinking an eye.

The Beyond Burger is launching next week at the Hollywood Veggie Grill location, and the chain anticipates adding it to its other locations within a few months time.

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.