When Your Burger Tastes Like An Animal

I love a good veggie burger. And by veggie burger, I mean packed with beans, veggies, and some sort of grain, not stuffed with wheat proteins, soy, or any artificial flavors or additives. When a few of my favorite restaurants featuring delicious veggie burgers switched from house-made, plant-loaded patties to the Impossible Burger, I was disappointed. However, when me and my parents visited Old Town Pour House in the Chicago suburbs last Spring, I decided that I would give it a try in lieu of not having anything else to eat for dinner.

I was hopeful. I had heard great things about this burger. It has over 10 grams of plant-based protein and is a proclaimed great alternative for consumers transitioning into a vegan diet, need a low cholesterol alterative to an animal burger, or just want something more similar to the “real deal.”  

The base of the Impossible Burger is water and wheat protein (clearly not one of my favorite ingredients, per my explanation above), along with coconut oil, “natural flavors,” and other ingredients that are most certainty not whole foods—I’m looking at you konjac and xanthan gum. However, I can’t totally discredit the Impossible Burger for having a base of wheat protein, as most plant-based burger consumers are looking for great taste and a high number of grams of protein—the Impossible Burger comes in at 20 grams of protein per patty.

While I was not thrilled with the ingredients in the Impossible Burger, I nonetheless decided to take a bite. My first reaction was the texture. It’s been a few years—over 4, to be exact—since I’ve eaten a McDonald’s single patty burger, but boy, did the Impossible Burger flash me back to my McDonald’s-eating days. To say I was grossed out is putting it nicely. The texture of the Impossible Burger was grainy and rubbery, like real meat is.

Next, I noticed the flavor. Weirdly gamey and strangely meat-flavored—I hated it. I was so taken aback by the fact that the burger tasted like meat (and I was almost convinced that the Impossible Burger was lying about its vegan claims) that I did some research right there and then in the restaurant to reassure myself that the patty I had just bitten into was animal-free. One word: heme. The Impossible Burger uses a molecule called heme that is found in mostly everything. From people to plants, heme is a protein molecule that tastes like meat, yet is 100-percent free of animals.

My vegan patty of choice: made with 11 vegetables & free of heme protein. Photograph by Monica Kaplan

My vegan patty of choice: made with 11 vegetables & free of heme protein. Photograph by Monica Kaplan

When I’m eating a vegan burger, I don’t want it to taste like an animal. I want it to taste like plants and the goodness that they offer. Bring on the beans, bring on the vegetables, and bring on the non-animal-tasting flavor. I do believe that this burger is great for people transitioning off meat and towards plants, but for us longtime vegans, we can do without the Impossible Burger. 

What’s your favorite veggie burger that you’ve bought in-store and tasted out at a restaurant? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love some inspiration!

with love & light, Amanda