If you're breathing, chances are you've heard at least something about the latest movers and shakers in the quest to create the best meat alternative: Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. But if you haven't yet experienced their latest creations—or even if you have—we're here to tell you everything you need to help you choose a side in the ongoing competition of Beyond Burger vs. Impossible Burger.
What Is the Beyond Burger?
The Beyond Burger is the most popular meat substitute from Beyond Meat, a company founded in 2009 with the stated mission of decreasing the harmful impacts of meat consumption. According to the company's website, creating vegan substitutes for real meat can help address issues surrounding "human health, climate change, constraints on natural resources, and animal welfare."
Introduced in 2016, the Beyond Meat burger took the fake meat world by storm by being the first veggie burger to actually approximate the taste and texture of the real thing.
What's in the Beyond Burger?
One thing that sets the Beyond Burger apart from the Impossible Burger is the fact that its makers eschew genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and source most ingredients from organic sources. That said, the Beyond Burger is still a highly processed food, as this ingredient list will attest:
|Water||Pea protein isolate||Expeller-pressed canola oil|
|Coconut oil||Cocoa butter||Apple extract|
|Bamboo cellulose||Methylcellulose||Potato starch|
|Natural flavor||Maltodextrin||Yeast extract|
|Salt||Sunflower oil||Vegetable glycerin|
|Dried yeast||Gum arabic||Acetic acid|
|Ascorbic acid||Citrus extract||Beet juice extract|
|Succinic acid||Modified food starch||Annatto|
What Is the Impossible Burger?
Impossible Burger is the faux meat brainchild of Impossible Foods. Founded in 2011, Impossible Foods was created with a similar goal of reducing our reliance on animal-based agriculture.
Unlike Beyond Meat, the Impossible Burger is the only product currently offered by Impossible Foods (though they're planning on adding more). The Impossible Burger is available mainly in restaurants, though it debuted in several grocery store chains in October 2019 and is slated to move nationwide by the end of the year.
What's in the Impossible Burger?
Unlike the Beyond Burger, the makers of the Impossible Burger include both gluten and GMO ingredients in their faux beef burgers. In fact, the heme in their Impossible Burger, which is the bloody substance we see when cooking a beef burger patty, is not only created by inserting the DNA of soy leghemoglobin (a type of hemoglobin found in soybeans) into yeast, but the soy leghemoglobin used in the process is itself sourced from GMO soybeans.
What's more, the heme created from this process has slowed the Impossible Burger's move into grocery stores, as the FDA has questioned the company's assurances of safety. In addition, according to the nonprofit Moms Across America, the Impossible Burger tested positive for glyphosate—the probable carcinogen found in RoundUp herbicide—at levels 11 times higher than those found in the Beyond Burger.
With that said, the Impossible Burger does contain fewer ingredients than the Beyond Burger:
|Water||Textured Wheat Protein||Zinc|
|Coconut oil||Potato protein||Vitamin B6|
|Natural flavors||Soy leghemoglobin||Niacin|
|Soy protein isolate||Konjac gum||Vitamin B12|
Where Can You Buy the Impossible Burger?
As mentioned, the Impossible Burger hasn't yet gone nationwide, though it is available at a number of fast-food chains and has recently been cleared by the FDA for sale in grocery stores, so it should become more widely available in the near future. Here's the current list of locations where the Impossible Burger can be found:
|Applebee's Grill + Bar||Bar Louie||Bareburger|
|Burger King||Del Frisco's Grille||Dog Haus|
|Fairway Market||Gelson's||Hard Rock Cafe|
|Hopdoddy Burger Bar||Houlihan's||Hurricane Grill & Wings|
|Little Caesars||Qdoba||Red Robin|
|The Cheesecake Factory||Topgolf||Umami Burger|
Beyond Burger vs. Impossible Burger: The Taste Test
Because of the use of heme, it's a good bet that many people will agree the Impossible Burger is the closest approximate you're going to get to an actual beef patty, which probably also explains why the vast majority of its customers are regular meat eaters.
That said, the Beyond Burger is not without its fans, especially since its latest iteration has now hit the shelves. So let's see how these two titans of the meatless meat industry compare.
The Impossible Burger
With its use of heme, the Impossible Burger has been known to repulse more than one avowed vegetarian. And that's what makes it so popular among meat eaters.
The Impossible Burger also contains coconut oil, which acts as an effective substitute for the fat seen in regular ground beef. In fact, people who've eaten the Impossible Burger find it positively juicy.
What's more, the Impossible Burger offers an impressive mouth feel that mimics the heft and texture of real meat.
The Beyond Burger
The makers of the Beyond Burger are constantly updating their formula in an endless quest to exactly duplicate the taste, aroma, and mouth feel of real beef. And their latest iteration appears to be the closest they've come yet.
While the original burger used beet juice to recreate the bloody look of red meat, many thought the burger was too red. Hence, the latest version now contains apple extract, which helps the burgers brown like real beef.
The new Beyond Burger also includes coconut oil and cocoa butter, which adds an additional umami flavor and a charring and marbling effect more reminiscent of real meat burgers.
And the texture? That's been improved too. In fact, some people now consider the Beyond Burger to be the closest thing to real meat outside the real thing.
Beyond Burger vs. Impossible Burger: Nutrition Facts
When it comes to nutrition, the Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger are actually pretty similar.
The Beyond Burger contains:
- 250 calories
- 18 grams of fat
- 6 grams of saturated fat
- 0 grams of cholesterol
- 390 milligrams of sodium
- 20 grams of protein
- 3 grams of carbs
While the Impossible Burger contains:
- 240 calories
- 14 grams of fat
- 8 grams of saturated fat
- 0 grams of cholesterol
- 370 milligrams of sodium
- 19 grams of protein
- 9 grams of carbs
As you can see, both the Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger contain quite a bit of sodium, though they're good protein sources and are cholesterol-free. However, both of these faux meat products are highly processed, so can we really say they're healthy? Probably not.
But they're probably better for you than real meat, and they're certainly easier on the planet, especially the Beyond Burger, which, again, is non-GMO and derived mostly from organic ingredients.
So, it's up to you. Will it be the Beyond Burger or the Impossible Burger? You decide.