On June 9th, 925 A&W locations across Canada began serving The Beyond Burger. For those who don’t know, The Beyond Burger is a vegetarian burger patty that is made to look, smell, taste and cook like a traditional beef burger patty. The burger, produced by the California-based company Beyond Meat, can be found at a variety of grocery stores and restaurants (mostly in the U.S.). A&W is now the first large retailer to bring the product to Canadian markets

About The Burger

Claire Elder

The burger is made from ingredients like pea protein, coconut oil and potato starch and boasts 0mg cholesterol, compared to the 80mg in beef burgers. It is also soy, gluten, hormone, antibiotic and GMO-free.

Contrary to many reports, The Beyond Burger is not made to "bleed" like its cousin The Impossible Burger. However, beet juice is used to colour the patty, replicating that juicy ground beef look. When raw, The Beyond Burger is a pinkish-red colour, and changes to brown as it cooks (pretty cool, huh?). 

Beyond Meat is dedicated to feeding the planet with plants by "creating mass market solutions that perfectly replace animal protein with plant protein". Creators of The Beyond Burger have achieved this through over 7 years of research. The Beyond Burger is able to be non-GMO because they simply found plant-based alternatives to the materials (minerals, carbs etc.) that make up meat, rather than creating new, genetically modified materials.

Some notable investors in the company include Leonardo DiCaprio, Bill Gates, Biz Stone and Evan Williams (Twitter's founders), and the U.S. Humane Society.

Trying The Burger

Claire Elder

I’ve heard accounts of meat-eaters trying The Beyond Burger and not even being able to tell the difference, so I decided to taste test it myself.

The burger is topped with standard A&W fixings like lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion, ketchup, mustard and mayo and is served on a sesame seed bun. The A&W version totals 500 calories, 29g of fat and 22g of protein and sets you back Can$6.99 before tax. You can also get the burger wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun, which brings it down to 340 calories, 26g of fat and 17g of protein.

While I have to admit it’s been a long time since I’ve had a regular burger from A&W, this burger did taste exactly like one to me. If someone had given it to me and told me it was meat, I would believe them no questions asked. A&W burgers are not left pink at all so I did not get to experience the raw, pink patty, but the cooked texture was remarkably similar to that of beef to me.

I got my meat-eating friend to try The Beyond Burger and A&W's Teen Burger side by side and he said although almost identical, he noticed a nutty aftertaste and a slightly softer texture in The Beyond Burger. He also agreed that he would believe someone if they gave him The Beyond Burger and tried to pass it off as meat.

All in all, The Beyond Burger is a huge step in terms of realistic fake meat, and serving it at A&W Canada is a small one in helping Canadian's (and the earth) reap the benefits of a plant-based diet. That's a win in my books. 

#SpoonTip: The A&W version of this burger is not vegan, as it is cooked on the same surface as other meat and eggs and is served topped with egg-based sauces. However, for vegetarians (or vegans who are comfortable simply asking for no sauce) this is a great fast food option.