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    Veggie Burgers out for Blood

    New patties aim to mimic meat more realistically

    By Kathy Hayden

    If it bleeds, it leads in the new segment of vegetarian burgers that sizzle, sear and even ooze “blood” like their meaty counterparts.

    Two California-based food companies, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, are taking a high-tech approach (fueled by high-tech investment money) to creating high-protein meat-free patties. The Impossible Burger taps the power of wheat, coconut oil, potatoes and heme to create its meatlike experiences. Heme is an iron-containing, oxygen-carrying molecule in blood that is highly concentrated in red meat, but it can also be found in plants. According to the company, “heme is what makes meat smell, sizzle, bleed and taste gloriously meaty. Consider it the ‘magic ingredient’ that makes our burger a carnivore’s dream.”

    The Impossible Burger recently got a big bump when Chef David Chang, an avowed meat devotee, added the patty to his offerings at New York City’s Momofuku Nishi in July—marking the first time the "animal-free" burger has been regularly featured on a restaurant menu.

    Pea protein and beet juice that emulates blood are the secret ingredients in the Beyond Burger, which is displayed in the meat cases at Whole Foods and several other national grocery store chains.

    “Beyond Meat set out to replicate the full 360-degree sensory experience of a ground beef burger patty,” says Beyond Burger representative Carly Rebecchi at M Booth agency. “That included the appearance of the raw patty, the color transition during cooking, the sizzle, the smell, and of course the eating experience—the taste, chew and juicy mouthfeel. Each of those elements is nuanced in its own right, and when you change one, it often affects another.”

    Grocerant-Ready Ideas:

    • Next-generation veggie burgers as part of your grill offerings
    • More traditional bean and mushroom veggie patties for traditionalists
    • Blind burger taste tests with staff and customers
    By Kathy Hayden
    • About Kathy Hayden

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