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Beyond Burger v beef: How the plant-based product stacks up against the real thing

HOUSTON – From high cholesterol to high fat, red meat -- and ground beef in particular -- is not exactly heart healthy. It's why everyone is talking about new plant-based meat substitutes. Fast food chains are serving them up, and now you can buy them in most grocery stores.

KPRC2 consumer expert Amy Davis set up a blind taste test with some unsuspecting burger lovers to see how the new alternative stacks up. 

Who sells plant-based beef substitute?

There are two big brands pushing plant-based beef right now. Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat. The new plant-based burgers aren't veggie burgers. Those have been around for decades. These are made with pea proteins, beets and coconut oil among other things and are designed to mimic the texture and heft of real beef. 

Beyond Meat Burger vs. Real Beef Burger

We asked burger buff Justin Turner, owner and chef of Bernie's Burger Bus, to cook up his regular mouth-watering beef burgers alongside the Beyond Burger planted-based patties, which are soy-free and gluten-free. He prepared each of the burgers with the same seasonings and built the hamburgers with the same condiments and accouterments. Turner served both a Beyond Burger hamburger and a real beef burger to four KPRC2 volunteers. We asked each which burger they liked best. 

"Can you tell a difference?" Davis asked taste tester, Wendy Fritts. "Yes, absolutely," Fritts replied.

"I believe this one is a little bit more drier," she said, pointing to the Beyond Burger. "This one is 100% more juicier. It's delicious," she said of the real beef burger.   

Just looking at the burgers, it's hard to tell which was which. Beyond Burgers are made with beet juice so the inside of the patty stays red, like a real beef patty cooked medium.  However, all four taste testers preferred the real beef burger. 

Turner was not surprised.

"It's Texas. We're beef country," he shrugged.

Turner said the Beyond Meat burger has a different texture than beef and when it's raw, it's hard to get past the smell.

"How does it smell?" Davis asked before she took a whiff of the raw patties. 

"Like cat food," replied Turner.

Is plant-based meat substitute healthier for you?

Even if you can get past the smell, you won't likely be any healthier eating plant-based burgers. Nutritionists say Beyond Burgers have almost the same calories, fat and protein as beef and they have way more sodium. 

Beyond Burger 
270 Calories
20 grams of fat 
20 grams of protein 
380 mg sodium 

Beef burger 
287 Calories
23 grams of fat
19 grams of protein   
75 mg sodium 

Price Comparison

Two 1/4 pound patties of the Beyond Burger cost us $5.99 at HEB. That is more than double the cost of regular ground beef. We purchased a full pound for $4.49.