A burger that looks like meat, cooks like meat, but isn’t meat

Cooking a Beyond Burger  I picked up a package of Beyond Burgers at a D.C. Whole Foods. The burgers were located in the meat section, right next to the store’s packages of ground beef and burger patties. The cost was $5.99 for two plant-based burger patties. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Cooking a Beyond Burger  With no access to a grill, I cooked the burgers in the next best thing: a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Beyond Meat’s CEO Ethan Brown says one of the most important things is not to overcook them, so I was careful to cook each side for three-to-four minutes. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Cooking a Beyond Burger  Brown says his family enjoys Beyond Burgers with pineapple teriyaki sauce on a pretzel bun. My preferred burger is one with a big slice of fresh tomato, some arugula, and of course, mayonnaise and ketchup. The plant-based burgers resembled a ground-beef burger, with a char on the outside and a pink middle. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
The Beyond Burger is not a veggie burger. There are no visible greens, grains or carrots bound by egg and breadcrumbs. Instead, it’s made from protein that’s been extracted from legumes and pulses, then heated and cooled to achieve the desired meat-like consistency. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Cooking a Beyond Burger  The verdict? To me, nothing is better in the summer than a ground-beef burger, cooked on a charcoal grill. But I must say, between a fresh bun, a summer tomato and some condiments, I did not miss meat when eating my skillet-prepared Beyond Burger. The taste isn’t exactly the same, but if I didn’t know any better (and drinks at the cookout were strong enough), I’d say it’s pretty close. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 24:  A general view during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Heineken Light Burger Bash, where Al Roker's booth served the Beyond Burger on February 24, 2017 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for BEYOND MEAT)
Packages of the pink, beef-like patties are sold alongside trays of ground beef at grocery stores including Whole Foods and Wegmans. Select locations of the chain, BurgerFi, list the Beyond Burger on its menu. (Photo by Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for BEYOND MEAT) (Getty Images for BEYOND MEAT/Aaron Davidson)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, CEO Josh Tetrick, left, watches as research and development chef Trevor Niekowal, right, makes a plant-based scrambled egg at Hampton Creek Foods in San Francisco.  Can plants replace eggs? A San Francisco startup backed by Bill Gates believes they can. Hampton Creek Foods is scouring the planet for plants that can replace chicken eggs in everything from cookies to omelets to French toast. Funded by prominent Silicon Valley investors, the upstart seeks to disrupt a global egg industry that backers say wastes energy, pollutes the environment, causes disease outbreaks and confines chickens to tiny spaces. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
In this photo, Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick, left, watches as research and development chef Trevor Niekowal, right, makes a plant-based scrambled egg at Hampton Creek Foods in San Francisco. Can plants replace eggs? A San Francisco startup backed by Bill Gates believes they can. Hampton Creek Foods is scouring the planet for plants that can replace chicken eggs in everything from cookies to omelets to French toast. Funded by prominent Silicon Valley investors, the upstart seeks to disrupt a global egg industry that backers say wastes energy, pollutes the environment, causes disease outbreaks and confines chickens to tiny spaces. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) (AP/Eric Risberg)
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The Beyond Burger is not a veggie burger. There are no visible greens, grains or carrots bound by egg and breadcrumbs. Instead, it’s made from protein that’s been extracted from legumes and pulses, then heated and cooled to achieve the desired meat-like consistency. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 24:  A general view during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Heineken Light Burger Bash, where Al Roker's booth served the Beyond Burger on February 24, 2017 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for BEYOND MEAT)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, CEO Josh Tetrick, left, watches as research and development chef Trevor Niekowal, right, makes a plant-based scrambled egg at Hampton Creek Foods in San Francisco.  Can plants replace eggs? A San Francisco startup backed by Bill Gates believes they can. Hampton Creek Foods is scouring the planet for plants that can replace chicken eggs in everything from cookies to omelets to French toast. Funded by prominent Silicon Valley investors, the upstart seeks to disrupt a global egg industry that backers say wastes energy, pollutes the environment, causes disease outbreaks and confines chickens to tiny spaces. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

WASHINGTON Look closely at grill grates across the country this summer, and you may notice something new kissing the flames.

It’s a patty that looks like ground beef, sizzles like ground beef, even bleeds like ground beef — but the Beyond Burger is plant-based.

Ethan Brown is the co-founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, the company behind Beyond Burger, and for the last decade, he and a team of scientists and chefs have been working to create a plant-based meat alternative that doesn’t sacrifice taste, texture or experience.

“My belief is that people will continue to eat meat, but we can transition from an animal-based meat to a plant-based meat in the same way we transitioned from using landlines to mobile phones,” said Brown, a D.C. native and University of Maryland graduate.

The Beyond Burger is not a veggie burger. There are no visible greens, grains or carrots bound by egg and breadcrumbs. Instead, it’s made from protein that’s been extracted from legumes and pulses, then heated and cooled to achieve the desired meat-like consistency.

“We believe nature has given us all we need to separate meat from animals,” Brown said.

Packages of the pink, beef-like patties are even sold alongside trays of ground beef at grocery stores including Whole Foods and Wegmans. Select locations of the chain, BurgerFi, list the Beyond Burger on its menu.

Brown says switching from traditional meat to plant-based meat alternatives has a number of benefits, starting with climate change.

“Replacing animal meat with plant-based meat is the single most effective thing you can do as a consumer to limit your emissions,” Brown said.  

A diet heavy in plant-based foods also helps cut risks for obesity, diabetes and cancer, and Brown says it frees up natural resources to grow plants for human consumption, not just animal consumption.

“People love meat. They want to keep eating it, but they’re also having some concerns about it and this provides a way [around that],” said Brown, whose company also makes plant-based alternatives to chicken strips and crumbled beef.

The Beyond Burger is not the only faux-meat burger on the market. A few years ago, Impossible Foods released its Impossible Burger. And while it doesn’t make plant-based meat, the California company Hampton Creek is winning over consumers with its plant-based mayonnaise and cookie doughs.  

The key to the Beyond Burgers, Brown says, is in the way you cook them. The packages are sold fresh, not frozen, and should be consumed shortly after purchase.

There are no microwave instructions on the package, only those for a skillet or grill, and Brown says it’s important not to overcook them. The patties only need three minutes on each side.

“It’s going to stay red in the middle like a medium-rare burger,” said Brown, who likes his best with pineapple teriyaki sauce on a pretzel bun.

“People seem to love it, and that’s really gratifying to us.”


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