People trying to convince you to eat non-meat proteins have two broad strategies at their disposal: double-down on the food’s unmistakably non-meat identity (say, tempeh) and make a case for its deliciousness on its own right. Or pander to meat-loving tastes by building the best possible simulacrum of animal flesh. This second tack is effective because even many abstainers will concede that meat has some irresistible qualities, and are likely to miss those well after giving it up.
This is also the line of thought that produces the Beyond Burger, a patty packed with 20 grams of plant protein that “bleeds” beet juice, cooks from pink to brown like a hamburger, and exudes the familiar beefy aroma. On Monday they were sold in the refrigerated meat section in Boulder, Colorado, selling out in an hour at $5.99 for two four-ounce patties, stocked right next to ground beef (which, for the committed carnivores, will soon sink to its lowest price in two years).
Beyond Meat, a California-based company that’s attracted investment from Bill Gates founded in 2009, faced a number of scientific puzzles during the seven-year development of this soy-free patty—most notably, how to get the fat, a mix of coconut, canola, and sunflower oil, evenly distributed throughout a patty made out of plant matter. That there’s even fat and “blood” at all bodes well for our meatless future; the chief sin of most freezer-section veggie burgers is their puck-like dryness and density, their joyless gray hue. We have yet to taste one of these brand-new inventions, but I’m hopeful for the meatless future if it starts looking more like this.
UPDATE: Helpful commenters have noted that the juice real meat oozes isn’t literal “blood,” but rather a mix of water and myoglobin. That’s what this Beyond Burger is trying to replicate.