|As the Impossible and Beyond burgers take off, will real veggie burgers go extinct?|
Superiority Burgers, made from vegetables, grains and beans.
There was a strange thrill in finding a veggie burger advertised on the menu of a beer bar in my hometown on Long Island. For years, I had to drive to far corners for explicitly vegetarian restaurants or pick up something frozen from the supermarket to enjoy what would usually be a blend of grains, beans and cheap vegetables. Here was a sign that times were truly changing, yet when it arrived and I took a bite, I immediately began to tear up, looking at my sister with terror: I was so sure I’d just eaten beef, for the first time in years. When the waitress returned, I asked, “Is this a veggie burger?” She replied, “Yes, it’s a Beyond burger.” I couldn’t finish it, so uncanny was its resemblance to actual ground beef. My appetite was lost, and I pined for the days of driving 20 miles for something recognizable as food — as vegetables.
That was my first experience with the new wave of tech burgers, which were brought into the world by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. The former has a base of pea protein, while the latter is soy based. Both have been engineered to resemble beef as closely as possible to entice carnivores to cut more beef from their diets because of its destructive impact on the environment. These were never food for vegetarians and vegans. The Impossible Burger launched itself through chefs such as David Chang, a previously vocal anti-vegetarian, and has now landed on menus at Burger Kings, White Castles and Little Caesars across the nation. These aren’t spaces known for a vegetarian-friendly ethos.
But the increasing ubiquity of these meat facsimiles on menus has created a strange moment for those of us who long ago chose to eschew the consumption of animal flesh: Where are the burgers for people who don’t want to eat anything that tastes like meat? What was once the most reliable menu item for non-meat-eaters has become almost overtaken by these tech options, appearing with trademark symbols on menus, and a fear pervades: Will true veggie burgers go extinct? For now, although many restaurants are choosing to put only tech burgers on their menus, others are sticking to their housemade versions or running them side by side.
</snip> Read the rest here: washingtonpost.com