The new generation of veggie burgers aims to replace the beefy original with fake meat or fresher vegetables. To find out how well they do, we ran a blind tasting of six top contenders. By Julia Moskin.
In just two years, food technology has moved consumers from browsing for wan “veggie patties” in the frozen aisle to selecting fresh “plant-based burgers” sold next to the ground beef.
Behind the scenes at the supermarket, giant battles are being waged: Meat producers are suing to have the words “meat” and “burger” restricted to their own products. Makers of meat alternatives like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are vying to capture the global fast-food market, as big players like Tyson and Perdue join the fray. Environmental and food scientists are insisting that we eat more plants and less processed food. Many vegetarians and vegans say the goal is to break the habit of eating meat, not feed it with surrogates.
“I would still prefer to eat something that’s not lab-grown,” said Isa Chandra Moskowitz, the chef at the vegan restaurant Modern Love in Omaha, where her own burger is the most popular dish on the menu. “But it’s better for people and for the planet to eat one of those burgers instead of meat every day, if that’s what they are going to do anyway.”
The new refrigerator-case “meat” products already comprise one of the fastest-growing segments of the food industry.
Some are proudly high-tech, assembled from an array of starches, fats, salts, sweeteners and synthetic umami-rich proteins. They are made possible by new technologies that, for example, whip coconut oil and cocoa butter into tiny globules of white fat that give the Beyond Burger the marbled appearance of ground beef.
Others are resolutely simple, based on whole grains and vegetables, and reverse-engineered with ingredients like yeast extract and barley malt to be crustier, browner and juicier than their frozen veggie-burger predecessors. (Some consumers are turning away from those familiar products, not only because of the taste, but because they are most often made with highly processed ingredients.)
But how do all the newcomers perform at the table?
The Times restaurant critic Pete Wells, our cooking columnist Melissa Clark and I lined up both kinds of new vegan burgers for a blind tasting of six national brands. Though many people have already tasted these burgers in restaurants, we wanted to replicate the experience of a home cook. (To that end, Melissa and I roped in our daughters: my 12-year-old vegetarian and her 11-year-old burger aficionado.)
Each burger was seared with a teaspoon of canola oil in a hot skillet, and served in a potato bun. We first tasted them plain, then loaded with our favorites among the classic toppings: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, pickles and American cheese. Here are the results, on a rating scale of one to five stars.
1. Impossible Burger
Maker Impossible Foods, Redwood City, Calif.
Slogan “Made From Plants For People Who Love Meat”
Selling points Vegan, gluten-free.
Price $8.99 for a 12-ounce package.
Tasting notes “The most like a beef burger by far,” was my first scribbled note. Everyone liked its crisp edges, and Pete noted its “brawny flavor.” My daughter was convinced it was a real ground beef patty, slipped in to confuse us. The only one of the six contenders that includes genetically modified ingredients, the Impossible Burger contains a compound (soy leghemoglobin) created and manufactured by the company from plant hemoglobins; it quite successfully replicates the “bloody” look and taste of a rare burger. Melissa deemed it “charred in a good way,” but, like most plant-based burgers, it became rather dried out before we finished eating.
Ingredients: Water, soy protein concentrate, coconut oil, sunflower oil, natural flavors, 2 percent or less of: potato protein, methylcellulose, yeast extract, cultured dextrose, food starch-modified, soy leghemoglobin, salt, soy protein isolate, mixed tocopherols (vitamin E), zinc gluconate, thiamine hydrochloride (vitamin B1), sodium ascorbate (vitamin C), niacin, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12.
2. Beyond Burger
Maker Beyond Meat, El Segundo, Calif.
Slogan “Go Beyond”
Selling points Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, non-G.M.O.
Price $5.99 for two four-ounce patties.
Tasting notes The Beyond Burger was “juicy with a convincing texture,” per Melissa, who also commended its “roundness, with lots of umami.” Her daughter identified a faint but pleasing smoky flavor, reminiscent of barbecue-flavored potato chips. I liked its texture: crumbly but not dry, as a burger should be. This burger was the most visually similar to one made of ground beef, evenly marbled with white fat (made from coconut oil and cocoa butter) and oozing a bit of red juice, from beets. Over all, Pete said, a “real beefy” experience.
Ingredients: Water, pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, rice protein, natural flavors, cocoa butter, mung bean protein, methylcellulose, potato starch, apple extract, salt, potassium chloride, vinegar, lemon juice concentrate, sunflower lecithin, pomegranate fruit powder, beet juice extract (for color).
3. Lightlife Burger
Maker Lightlife/Greenleaf Foods, Toronto
Slogan “Food That Shines”
Selling points Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, non-G.M.O.
Price $5.99 for two four-ounce patties.
Tasting notes “Warm and spicy” with a “crisp exterior” according to Melissa, the Lightlife burger is a new offering from a company that has been making burgers and other meat substitutes from tempeh (a fermented soy product with a sturdier texture than tofu) for decades. That’s probably why it nailed the “firm and chewy texture” that I found a little bready, but “not worse than most fast-food burgers.” “Pretty good when loaded up” was Pete’s final verdict.
Ingredients: Water, pea protein, expeller-pressed canola oil, modified cornstarch, modified cellulose, yeast extract, virgin coconut oil, sea salt, natural flavor, beet powder (for color), ascorbic acid (to promote color retention), onion extract, onion powder, garlic powder.
4. Uncut Burger
Maker Before the Butcher, San Diego
Slogan “Meaty but Meatless”
Selling points Vegan, gluten-free, non-G.M.O.
Price $5.49 for two four-ounce patties, available later this year.
Tasting notes The Uncut Burger, so named by the manufacturer to imply the opposite of a cut of meat, actually rated among the meatiest of the bunch. I was impressed by its slightly chunky texture, “like good coarse-ground beef,” but Melissa felt it made the burger fall apart “like wet cardboard.” The taste seemed “bacony” to Pete, perhaps because of the “grill flavor” and “smoke flavor” listed in the formula. (To food manufacturers, they are not quite the same thing: one is intended to taste of charring, the other of wood smoke.)
Ingredients: Water, soy protein concentrate, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, isolated soy protein, methylcellulose, yeast extract (yeast extract, salt, natural flavor), caramel color, natural flavor (yeast extract, maltodextrin, salt, natural flavors, medium chain triglycerides, acetic acid, grill flavor [from sunflower oil], smoke flavor), beet juice powder (maltodextrin, beet juice extract, citric acid), natural red color (glycerin, beet juice, annatto), citric acid.
Maker Field Roast, Seattle
Slogan “Plant-Based Artisanal Meats”
Selling points Vegan, soy-free, non-G.M.O.
Price About $6 for four 3.25-ounce patties.
Tasting notes Not much like meat, but still “much better than the classic” frozen vegetarian patties, to my mind, and the consensus choice for a good vegetable burger (rather than a meat replica). Tasters liked its “vegetal” notes, a reflection of the onions, celery and three different forms of mushroom — fresh, dried and powdered — on the ingredients list. There was some crispness to like in the crust, according to Pete, but the bready interior (it contains gluten) was not popular. “Maybe this burger would do better without a bun?” he asked.
Ingredients: Vital wheat gluten, filtered water, organic expeller-pressed palm fruit oil, barley, garlic, expeller-pressed safflower oil, onions, tomato paste, celery, carrots, naturally flavored yeast extract, onion powder, mushrooms, barley malt, sea salt, spices, carrageenan (Irish moss sea vegetable extract), celery seed, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, shiitake mushrooms, porcini mushroom powder, yellow pea flour.
6. Sweet Earth Fresh Veggie Burger
Maker Sweet Earth Foods, Moss Landing, Calif.
Slogan “Exotic by Nature, Conscious by Choice”
Selling points Vegan, soy-free, non-G.M.O.
Price About $4.25 for two four-ounce patties.
Tasting notes This burger is sold only in flavors; I chose Mediterranean as the most neutral. Tasters liked the familiar profile of what Melissa declared “the burger for people who love falafel,” made mostly from chickpeas and bulked out with mushrooms and gluten. (Called “vital wheat gluten” on ingredient lists, it is a concentrated formulation of wheat gluten, commonly added to bread to make it lighter and chewier, and the main ingredient in seitan.) The burger wasn’t meaty, but had “nutty, toasted grain” notes that I liked from brown rice, and whiffs of spices like cumin and ginger. This burger is a longtime market leader, and Sweet Earth was recently acquired by Nestlé USA on the strength of it; the company is now introducing a new plant-meat contender called the Awesome Burger.
Ingredients: Garbanzo beans, mushroom, vital wheat gluten, green peas, kale, water, bulgur wheat, barley, bell peppers, carrot, quinoa, extra-virgin olive oil, red onion, celery, flax seed, cilantro, garlic, nutritional yeast, granulated garlic, sea salt, ginger, granulated onion, lime juice concentrate, cumin, canola oil, oregano.
Why are soy fiber dietary thought to be so good for health? What are the characteristics of soy dietary fiber? What is the function of SPI?
l What is soy dietary fiber?
l What are the soy dietary fiber used for
l What are the health effects of soy dietary fiber
soybean dietary fiberary mainly refers to the general term for macromolecular carbohydrates that cannot be digested by human digestive enzymes, mainly including cellulose, pectin, xylan, mannose, etc. Although dietary fiber cannot provide any nutrients to the human body, it has important physiological functions for the human body. Dietary fiber has the functions of significantly reducing plasma cholesterol, regulating gastrointestinal function and insulin level.
The biological activity of soybean dietary fiberary, regulating blood lipids, lowering cholesterol, soybean dietary fiberary has the ability to bind and exchange cations, and can exchange ca2+, pa2+, etc. During ion exchange, the instantaneous concentration of cations is changed, which plays a role in dilution, so it affects the pH value, osmotic pressure and redox site of the digestive tract, forming an ideal buffer environment. More importantly, it can exchange with NA+ in the intestinal tract, prompting a large amount of K+ and NA+ to be eliminated from the urine and feces, thereby reducing the NA+/K+ value in the blood and directly reducing blood pressure. Therefore, the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure, heart disease and arteriosclerosis is closely related to the excretion of cholesterol and bile acid and dietary fiber. The water-soluble dietary fiber in soybean fiber has the effect of significantly reducing blood cholesterol concentration.
SPI can inhibit and regulate the increase of insulin and blood sugar levels in patients with impaired glucose tolerance. It can promote the absorption of water in the gastrointestinal tract of the human body, delay the absorption of glucose, and at the same time make people feel full, which is beneficial for diabetic and obese patients to eat. It can improve the function of the large intestine.
If you are looking for a good quality and reasonable price of soy dietary fiber products,Xinrui Group can provide you with the best
Vital Wheat Gluten is one of the most popular healthy foods. What role does wheat gluten play in the food industry? What are the advantages of organic wheat gluten
l What is organic wheat gluten
l What is the use of organic wheat gluten in food
l What are the health effects of organic wheat gluten
Vital Wheat Gluten has unique properties and is widely used in the food industry and feed industry for the preparation of edible films, bioactive small peptides and other products. Gluten flour, also known as active gluten flour and wheat gluten protein, is a natural protein extracted from wheat (flour). It is composed of a variety of amino acids. The protein content is as high as 75% to 85%. It is a nutrient-rich vegetable protein resource. It has viscosity, elasticity, extensibility, film formability and liposuction. Gluten is an excellent dough improver, which is widely used in the production of bread, noodles and instant noodles. It is used as a water-retaining agent in meat products, and it is also the basic raw material of high-grade aquatic feed.
1. The application of organic wheat gluten in bread flour can significantly improve the water absorption rate of dough, increase dough elasticity, air retention, dough kneading resistance and stability, and significantly improve the internal structure and baking quality of bread. And due to the high protein content of gluten, Maillard reaction often occurs during the baking process, resulting in an attractive aroma, which can improve the quality of bread.
2. organic wheat gluten can also improve the elasticity of foods. For example, after adding gluten to the fish cake, the gluten is restored to a ductile gluten network structure due to water absorption. After kneading, it is evenly mixed with the fish meat. Through heating, the gluten continuously absorbs water and heat denatures, strengthening the fish cake. The elasticity of the sausage; the use of gluten denatured by reducing agents or enzymes in the production of sausage products can enhance the elasticity of sausages.
3. Using wheat gluten as raw material, the edible film prepared has the characteristics of good mechanical properties, edible and degradable properties, and is often used as the substrate of edible film. Studies have shown that the edible film made from gluten has an ideal fresh-keeping effect.
The traditional view holds that protein plays a nutritional role in food, and protein can only be absorbed and utilized by the human body after it is decomposed into free amino acids. However, in recent years, studies have found that after digestion in the human body, proteins are mostly in the form of small peptides composed of 2-7 amino acid molecules, and then directly absorbed by the intestinal tract, and the proportion of amino acids absorbed is very small. At present, the extraction of bioactive small peptides from gluten has become a hot spot in functional food research.
If you are looking for a good quality and reasonable price of Vital Wheat Gluten,Xinrui Group can provide you with the best.
Our new factory, which will manufacture wheat gluten 70,000tons, wheat starch 120,000 tons is being constructed. The workshop is being built according to GMP standard, will become the largest wheat industry chain in China, even the World. We always pursue excellent products and professional service; very welcome all customers both from China and abroad visiting our Group, to create magnificent future together!
We pursue an extreme perfection.
It is not only an idea, but also an attitude.
We pay attention to every detail, take cyclic development as the core, and devote ourselves to providing more valuable green agricultural products for global customers.
XINRUI -- China's high-quality wheat protein / soybean protein production base
Professionalism is a spirit.
Adhering to professionalism, we have successfully developed a series of intensive processing products concerning wheat and soybeans whicha dapt to the needs of global customers. With a total asset of RMB 1.7 billion, integrating base planting, scientific and technological R & D, agricultural product processing and import & export trade, the Company is China's first-class integrated supplier of modernized agricultural products.
Concentration is a belief.
We have established an integrated control system regarding product R & D, supply chain management, service support and marketing, and realized the whole industry chain operation including planting, terminal products and after-sales services, with excellent quality.
Our core products, including wheat flour, wheat starch, wheat gluten, alcohol, high protein feed,Non-GMO soybean oil, soy protein isolate and soy dietary fiber, are exported to more than 40 countries and regions.
We have been advocating green agriculturalcircular economy, and have made independent innovations on two circular economic industry chains.
With wheat as the raw material, our 300kt/a intensive processing wheat industry chain successively extracts a series of flour, i.e., special fine steamed bread flour, flour for dumplings, individualized nutrition powder, acid baking powder. Then, wheat gluten, wheat starch A, starch B and pentosan will be extracted and transformed into special-grade and superior alcohol products and feed. With internationally advanced manufacturing technology, we have achieved fully-enclosed clean production, and reached China's advanced level in terms of scale, equipment, technology and product quality.
With Non-GMO soybeans as the raw material, our 180kt/a integrated intensive processing soybean industry chain successively extracts soybean oil, low-temperature food-grade soybean meal, protein isolate, dietary fiber, etc. For manufacturing technology, the single line capacity of core equipment exceeds 12,500t, leading the industry.
After high protein feed is extracted from industrial wastewater, biogas can be extracted by fermentation, and form abiogas power generation supply chain. The produced sludge and production waste will become organic fertilizer processing materials, and be restored into the Company's planting base, thereby, achieving the recycling of exhaust gas, wastewater and waste materials, and forming a fully circular economic industry mode: base planting -- intensive process -- liquid cultivation -- biogas power generation -- water resource reuse -- organic fertilizer processing -- basesoil remediation.
Sticking to innovation, we have achieved dozens of scientific research results, passed ISO9001, ISO22000, HACCP certification, HALAL certification, KOSHER certification, IP Non-GMO certification, as well as BRC Global Standard for Food Safety certification, and have been highly recognized by global customers.
Extreme perfection is an attitude.
We seek whole process quality management, and select the best-quality raw materials. Both raw materials and products must undergo the strictest tests so as to guarantee quality.
With the idea of great services, we have established strategic cooperation with numerous first-class customers. In China, Russia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North America, Australia, Southeast Asia, etc., we can provide more valuable products and all-round after-sales services for more and more customers.
Today, we are actively building a chain-based circular economic system, which integrates characteristic wheat, Non-GMO soybean planting, intensive processing of agricultural products and "Internet + marketing" engineering and is characterized by the integration of three industries, focusing on customer demands to create value for them, and striving to be a world-class supplier of wheat and soybean health products, with safety, environmental protection, energy conservation and efficiency.
XINRUI allows you to achieve extreme prosperity and enjoy life!
P.1: Xinrui Group – Plantation Base – N-GMO Soybean Plants
Soybeans were cultivated in Asia about 3,000 years ago. Soy was first introduced to Europe in the early 18th century and to British colonies in North America in 1765, where it was first grown for hay. Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter in 1770 mentioning bringing soybeans home from England. Soybeans did not become an important crop outside of Asia until about 1910. Soy was introduced to Africa from China in the late 19th Century and is now widespread across the continent.
In America soy was considered an industrial product only and not used as a food prior to the 1920’s. Traditional non-fermented food uses of soybeans include soy milk and from the latter tofu and tofu skin. Fermented foods include soy sauce, fermented bean paste, natto, and tempeh, among others. Originally, soy protein concentrates and isolates were used by the meat industry to bind fat and water in meat applications and to increase protein content in lower grade sausages. They were crudely refined and if added at above 5% amounts, they imparted a “beany” flavor to the finished product. As technology advanced soy products were refined further and exhibit a neutral flavor today.
In the past the soybean industry begged for acceptance but today soybean products can be found in every supermarket. Differently flavored soy milk and roasted soybeans lie next to almonds, walnuts and peanuts. Today soy proteins are considered not just a filler material, but a “good food” and are used by athletes in diet and muscle building drinks or as refreshing fruit smoothies.
P.2: Xinrui Group –N-GMO Soybeans
Soybeans are considered to be a source of complete protein. A complete protein is one that contains significant amounts of all the essential amino acids that must be provided to the human body because of the body’s inability to synthesize them. For this reason soy is a good source of protein amongst many others for vegetarians and vegans or for people who want to reduce the amount of meat they eat. They can replace meat with soy protein products without requiring major adjustments elsewhere in the diet. From the soybean many other products are obtained such as: soy flour, textured vegetable protein, soy oil, soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, soy yoghurt, soy milk and animal feed for farm raised fish, poultry and cattle.
The dramatic increase in interest in soy products is largely credited to the 1995 ruling of the Food and Drug Administration allowing health claims for foods containing 6.25 g of protein per serving. The FDA approved soy as an official cholesterol-lowering food along with other heart and health benefits. The FDA granted the following health claim for soy: “25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.”
Soy flour is made by milling soybeans. Depending on the amount of oil extracted the flour can be full-fat or de-fatted. It can be made as fine powder or more coarse soy grits. Protein content of different soy flours:
Full-fat soy flour - 35%.
Low-fat soy flour - 45%.
Defatted soy flour - 47%.
Soybeans contain all three of the nutrients required for good nutrition: complete protein, carbohydrate and fat as well as vitamins and minerals including calcium, folic acid and iron. The composition of soy protein is nearly equivalent in quality to meat, milk and egg protein. Soybean oil is 61% polyunsaturated fat and 24% monounsaturated fat which is comparable to the total unsaturated fat content of other vegetable oils. Soybean oil contains no cholesterol.
Commercially processed meats contain soy protein today throughout the world. Soy proteins are used in hot dogs, other sausages, whole muscle foods, salamis, pepperoni pizza toppings, meat patties, vegetarian sausages etc. Hobbyist have also discovered that adding some soy protein allowed them to add more water and improved the texture of the sausage. It eliminated shrivelling and made the sausage plumper.
Soy concentrates and isolates are used in sausages, burgers and other meat products. Soy proteins when mixed with ground meat will form a gel upon heating, entrapping liquid and moisture. They increase firmness and juiciness of the product and reduce cooking loss during frying. In addition they enrich the protein content of many products and make them healthier by reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol that otherwise would be present. Soy protein powders are the most commonly added protein to meat products at around 2-3% as the larger amounts may impart a “beany” flavor to the product. They bind water extremely well and cover fat particles with fine emulsion. This prevents fats from lumping together. The sausage will be juicier, plumper and have less shrivelling.
Soy protein concentrate (about 60% protein), is a natural product that contains around 60% protein and retains most of the soybean’s dietary fiber. SPC can bind 4 parts of water. However, soy concentrates do not form the real gel as they contain some of the insoluble fiber that prevents gel formation; they only form a paste. This does not create a problem as the sausage batter will never be emulsified to the extent that the yoghurt or smoothie drinks are. Before processing, soy protein concentrate is re-hydrated at a ratio of 1:3.
Soy protein isolate, is a natural product that contains at least 90% protein and no other ingredients. It is made from de-fatted soy meal by removing most of the fats and carbohydrates. Therefore, soy protein isolate has a very neutral flavour compared to other soy products. As soy protein isolate is more refined, it costs slightly more than soy protein concentrate. Soy protein isolate can bind 5 parts of water. Soy isolates are excellent emulsifiers of fat and their ability to produce the real gel contributes to the increased firmness of the product. Isolates are added to add juiciness, cohesiveness, and viscosity to a variety of meat, seafood, and poultry products.
P.3: Xinrui Group –Ruiqianjia Brand ISP – Good gel and emulsification.
For making quality sausages the recommended mixing ratio is 1 part of soy protein isolate to 3.3 parts of water. SPI is chosen for delicate products that require superior flavor such as yoghurt, cheese, whole muscle foods and healthy drinks. Isolated Soy protein manufactured by Xinrui Group - Shandong Kawah Oils and exported by Guanxian Ruichang Trading usually contains 90% of protein.
P.4: N-GMO –SPI Made by Xinrui Group - Shandong Kawah Oils
The protein separated from soybean meal. They contain more than 90% protein. The basic principle of producing SPI is simple. Using defatted soybean flakes as raw materials, protein is first dissolved in water. The solution is separated from the solid residue. Finally, the protein is washed out of the solution, separated and dried.
Isolated soy protein is a kind of surfactant, which can reduce the surface tension of water and oil as well as air. It is easy to form stable emulsion. In the process of making baked food, frozen food and soup food, adding soy protein isolate as emulsifier can make the product stable.
Isolated soy protein can be added into meat products to form emulsion and gel matrix to prevent fat from moving to the surface. Therefore, it can promote fat absorption or fat binding. It can reduce the loss of fat and juice during the processing of meat products, help maintain the stability of appearance, and the oil absorption rate of protein separated is 154%.
It has high viscosity, plasticity and elasticity. It can be used not only as a carrier of water, but also as a carrier of flavoring agent, sugar and other complexes, which is very beneficial to food processing.
In soy protein, the foaming property of protein isolate is the best. The foaming property of soybean protein can give loose structure and good taste to food.
When the meat is chopped, the mixture of protein isolate and egg protein is applied on the surface of the fiber to form a thin film, which is easy to dry, can prevent odor loss, is conducive to the rehydration process, and provides a reasonable structure for the rehydrated products.
Soy dietary fiber is derived from the cell wall material of soybean cotyledon. It is composed of a complex matrix of insoluble fiber, soluble fiber and protein. In many products like ice cream, bread food and drink etc. Soy dietary fiber can increase final products' water-binding ability and formability. Soya dietary fibre is wildly used in Nutritional food, Dietary food, Fast food, Seasoning products, Meat products, Bread and so on.
Application: meat products, quick-frozen products, bakery, tomato sauce, ketchup, heath products, fat-free food, low-fat and low-sugar food and high fiber food.
- Good color and luster, excellent flavor.
- Excellent water-holding and expansibility. To enhance moisture and defer aging when added into the food.
- Excellent property of emulsifying, suspension and thickening.
Packing: 20kgs per plastic-paper bag with separate inner PE liner.
Keep from rain and humidity during transportation and storage, forbidden to pack or store with other odorants.
Best temperature for storage is below 25, keep ventilation and dryness.
Shelf life is 12 months.