Restaurants offer trendy plant-based meat options

Burger King's popular

ELSIE WESSELS-MAINS/SAGAMORE STAFF

Burger King’s popular “Impossible Burger” was a kickstart to the trend of plant-based meat alternatives being offered at fast-food establishments.

Packed with an explosion of flavor, the spices mixed together cohesively to create a well-rounded bite. A light charring lined the patty, giving it a smoky taste combined with a warm, juicy texture. However, this wasn’t any ordinary burger. To our utter amazement, the entirety of it was plant-based.
In this day and age, meat alternatives are high in demand. According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan, meat production contributes to over 42 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, greatly impacting the rate of climate change. Additionally, various cultures, religions and diets discourage the consumption of many types of meat.
But what does this mean for the future of meat-centered meals?
Many restaurants are now trying to creating their own meat substitutes in addition to their usual meat dishes. Curious to try, we set off to see which food chain takes the cake. We rated the items on accuracy of meat replication and taste in general.
On our journey to find the best meat substitutes, we tried three different fast-food restaurants: Dunkin’ Donuts, Qdoba and Burger King. Although not having the healthiest reputations, each of these food spots has their own take on a relatively inexpensive plant-based meat alternative.
We started with a morning run to Dunkin’, a beloved classic for many students. We were excited to see that they had come up with a vegetarian sausage which they branded as the Beyond Sausage Sandwich. Eager to try our first bite, we were pleasantly surprised by the seemingly familiar taste of regular sausage.
The Beyond Sausage housed more salt and spice than normal sausage, as well as having hints of lentil in an herby seasoning. This was possibly an attempt to mask the taste of vegetables, which they did successfully. It was almost impossible to realize that the “sausage” wasn’t genuine unless somebody had told you.
Furthermore, The Beyond Sausage lacked the usual grease that comes with Dunkin’ sandwiches, which we appreciated. This also made the patty less dense with a more consistent texture than normal sausage.
Overall, we thought The Beyond Sausage sandwich was a pretty successful attempt at replicating the taste of normal sausage. Even more so, we thought the flavors and textures blended together in a way that was actually better than real sausage. We rated the Beyond Sausage Sandwich an 8/10 in terms of meat replication and an 8.5/10 in terms of taste in general.

ELSIE WESSELS-MAINS/SAGAMORE STAFF
Qdoba’s vegetarian quesadilla.

Next, we headed to Qdoba to try their Impossible Beef substitute. We tried the plant-based meat in two different forms: on a burrito bowl and in a quesadilla. Overall, the taste of beef was not present at all, contradicting the advertisements. The substitute tasted strongly of mushrooms, which was off-putting when we had expected something completely different. The Impossible Beef substitute was also much chewier than regular meat.
We thought Qdoba’s Impossible beef was an unsuccessful attempt at replicating meat due to the offsetting texture and taste.
Instead of trying to reproduce the taste of beef, we believe that the restaurant should’ve focused on making a tastier alternative. In conclusion, we were pretty unsatisfied with the results. We rated Qdoba’s Impossible Beef as a 3/10 in terms of meat replication, and a 4/10 in terms of taste.
Our last stop was Burger King, the home of the Impossible Burger. We were the most enthusiastic to try this meat substitute because we had heard such raving reviews.
At our first taste, the Impossible Burger seemed to be a very fitting name because we genuinely couldn’t believe it wasn’t meat. The patty tasted similar to a turkey burger and had a juicy texture, replicating that of beef.
It was warm and freshly grilled, giving it a smoky flavor. Along with this, the taste was strong and savory, but didn’t outshine the rest of the burger. The plant-based patty complimented the sandwich very nicely and gave it a great taste. We rated the Impossible burger as a 9/10 in terms of meat replication and a 9/10 in terms of taste.
All in all, we thought that the meat alternatives we tried were impressive. Although Qdoba’s take on their substitute wasn’t as tasty as Dunkin’ or Burger King it was clear that they were trying to replicate ground beef. We strongly recommend that everyone should give these plant-based meat replacements a try but also dive into the world of tasty alternatives that aren’t necessarily fixated on replicating the taste of meat. These small adjustments in eating can do more than you think for our current and rapidly changing environment.