We’re living in an increasingly meat-ambivalent culture, but that was not always the case. I was a pescatarian, which means I didn’t eat meat except for fish, throughout high school and most of college, and at the risk of sounding off about walking uphill to school both ways, it was definitely harder to find meat-free options back then. It was much easier than for vegetarians of earlier generations, to be sure, but as far as meat substitutes went, you basically had Morning Star and Boca. I have eaten dozens if not hundreds of Boca Burgers and Morning Star fake bacon strips, and I can tell you that while they were certainly palatable, they were not exactly delicious. Incidentally, I haven’t tried either of these brands in years so it is possible they’ve improved along with the time.
My point is: There are some great vegetarian meat, or as we now call them, “plant-based” options. The two that have become the major players in the space are Beyond Meat and Impossible Meat. Both have sort of futuristic-sounding names. And both are pretty dang good. So, what’s the difference, when it comes to Impossible Meat vs Beyond Meat? Let’s find out.
What is Beyond Meat made of?
According to their website, “We start with simple plant-based, non-GMO ingredients. Beyond Meat sources proteins, fats, minerals, flavors and colors, and carbohydrates from plant-based sources like peas, beans, potatoes and brown rice.”
How is Beyond Meat made?
Once again, the Beyond Meat website has an answer for you: “Step one: Gather all the usual components of meat—protein, fat, minerals, carbs, and water—but from plants. Step two: Apply heat, cooling and pressure to the proteins.” They go into greater detail about their ingredients and process on their website as well, noting that they use disparate ingredients to provide a meat-y experience, such as coconut oil for fat and potato starch for texture.
What is Impossible Meat made of?
The Impossible site explains, “Protein from soy and potatoes provides a meaty bite and mouthfeel. Heme, a molecule found in all living things, gives Impossible Burger its unmistakably meaty flavor…Coconut oil, sunflower oil, and binders are used as texturizers to provide Impossible Burger with that perfect sizzle and juiciness.”
How is Impossible Meat made?
The closest answer I could find on their site explains it thusly: “Impossible Beef is a mix of proteins, flavors, fats, and binders.” They continue with an ingredients list: “Protein from soy, flavor from heme (the molecule that makes meat taste, well, meaty), fat from sunflower and coconut oils make it sizzle on the griddle, binders hold it together so you can make anything you want —meatballs, kebabs, patties and more.” Okay, admittedly that’s almost as much ad copy as actual explanation, but they don’t get into their patented meat-i-fication process beyond this.
So, Impossible vs Beyond Meat: What’s the difference?
You may have noticed that the answers to these questions are fairly similar. That’s because, frankly, Beyond and Impossible use similar processes and ingredients to create their meat substitutes. The most noticeable difference between the two faux meat brands is the use of “heme.” Impossible uses it. Beyond does not, relying instead on beet juice to give it that meaty color.
In terms of price, products from both companies are fairly similar. At a local Vons, you can get a two-pack of Beyond Burger Patties for $3.99 and Impossible Burger Patties for $4.99. There are differences in tastes and textures to be sure, and I’d encourage you to try both to see which one you prefer. The Sporked team was torn on the two brands in their best plant-based burger taste test, awarding both 10 sporks. Impossible and Beyond also tied in the battle for the best vegan sausage.
At the end of the day, I’m just happy to live in a world with so many solid meat alternatives.