On Monday, I did something I swore I would never do. I engaged in an activity that left me feeling dirty, cheap and used. I may even have to give up my long-standing membership in a community I have treasured being a part of.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. The Carnivore of Carnivores took on A&W Canada’s Beyond Meat Burger … for science!
Beyond Meat Inc. was founded in 2009 by Ethan Brown. His concept was to create meat alternatives for public consumption. That includes plant-based burgers, sausage patties and chicken-free products.
As the trend to reduce meat consumption in our daily diets began to pick up steam, some people rejoiced in having an alternative that didn’t taste like cardboard. Ethical Treatment of Animals declared Beyond Meat its 2013 company of the year. Tyson Foods bought a five per cent stake in the company. Whole Foods and the restaurant chain TGI Fridays started to carry Beyond Meat products, and it became available in most U.S. supermarkets – in the meat section – by 2016.
Beyond Meat set the wheels in motion in late April to become a publicly-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange. The initial public offering (IPO) was US$25 a share. This raised US$240 million of a valuation in the neighbourhood of US$1.5 billion.
The stock’s first trade on May 2, however, was at US$46 or 84 per cent above the IPO. It closed at $65.75 or 163 per cent above the IPO. This made Beyond Meat “the best performing first-day IPO in nearly two decades,” according to MarketWatch’s Ciara Linnane.
This stunning market reaction made me reconsider my decision not to try this product.
I’m what you would call an über carnivore. I eat and grill meat several times a week, and use a smoker to create pulled pork, brisket, sausages and the like. I will eat chicken, duck, turkey, pasta and fish, but I could easily survive without them. As for vegetables, I’ll consume them as side dishes – but not as a main course.
After the IPO went through the stratosphere, I realized that I couldn’t discuss this topic intelligently unless I tried this (ahem) godforsaken product. And while I would obviously be walking in with preconceived notions about meat alternatives, it was still the right thing to do.
So I went to an A&W restaurant and ordered a Beyond Meat Burger with cheese and bacon. (Five of the seven people ahead of me in line also ordered the plant-based burger. There’s no question it’s a popular item on the menu.) Here’s my assessment:
Does the Beyond Meat Burger look like a real hamburger?
Yes. If it was put on a table without a wrapper and/or any form of identification, no one would be able to tell the difference.
Does the Beyond Meat Burger taste like a real hamburger?
Absolutely not. I took a few bites of the plant-based burger, and it tasted salty and somewhat chemically. There’s no resemblance to a burger made from the holy trinity of beef, pork and veal – or one of those meats on its own.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying, fooling himself/herself or doesn’t know what real meat tastes like.
Is the Beyond Meat Burger palatable with cheese and bacon?
Yes, but that’s to be expected. Bacon makes everything better – and cheese adds an extra dimension, much like mustard, ketchup and relish.
Since Beyond Meat doesn’t taste like real meat, condiments and extra toppings obviously improve the taste. It works the same way with burgers from popular chains like McDonald’s, Burger King and yes, A&W.
Would I ever eat a Beyond Meat Burger again?
No. The concept of Beyond Meat didn’t appeal to me before and still doesn’t after trying it. If I don’t want to eat meat on a particular day, I’ll eat something else. Fake meat wouldn’t be my first choice of an alternative, or second choice – or last choice, truth be told.
In this carnivore’s opinion, the Beyond Meat Burger isn’t worth your time, effort or money.
If you want to try it, more power to you. I’m going to stick to real meat in my burgers, now and forever.
Troy Media columnist and political commentator Michael Taube was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper.