I'm a former meat-eater who's always been skeptical of plant-based 'meat.' But after trying meatless burgers from 3 fast-food chains, I've completely changed my mind.
Joey Hadden/Business Insider
- Plant-based meat alternatives are conquering fast-food and casual-dining markets.
- Burger King, White Castle, and Carl's Jr are getting in on meat substitute craze with their own versions plant-based burgers.
- Burger King and White Castle both offered renditions of the Impossible burger, while Carl's Jr used Beyond Meat patties.
- As a non-meat-eater, I decided to try all the plant-based fast-food burgers that I could get my hands on in New York.
- I don't eat plant-based "meat" because I used to eat real meat, and I never thought the plant-based stuff could ever compare to the real thing. But after trying these fast-food options, I now know how wrong I was.
- I found that Carl's Jr's Beyond Famous Star burger is the best - though not the meatiest-tasting - plant-based fast-food burger that's out there right now, with White Castle and Burger King's options not far behind.
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First, I went to a White Castle in Brooklyn, New York, to try the Impossible slider.
The slider was only $1.99, and it came in this cute little box.Advertisement
This slider may be small, but it packs a lot of flavors. It comes with smoked cheese, caramelized onions, and a pickle slice ...
... and, of course, the Impossible patty, which is made from soy protein, potato protein, coconut oil, and sunflower oil.Advertisement
One bite in and one word came to mind — steak. This slider smells and tastes exactly like a meaty steak.
And believe it or not, that's because of the sunflower oil. The sunflower oil has heme in it, which is a molecule that contains iron and gives this slider a meaty flavor.Advertisement
Plus, the caramelized onions, smoked cheddar, pickle, and warm toasty bun complimented the patty well.
Next, I hit the Carl's Jr in Brooklyn, New York, to try their Beyond Famous Star cheeseburger.Advertisement
Carl's Jr's Beyond Famous Star with cheese was $7.49, quite a bit more than White Castle's slider.
But this burger was also much bigger and worth every penny.Advertisement
It came with all the standard burger fixings: lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, and mayonnaise.
The patty is made mostly of pea protein, rice protein, mung bean protein, and beet juice extract for that meaty color.Advertisement
One bite in and it was clear that this burger did not taste nearly as meaty as White Castle's Impossible slider ...
... but I liked it better. While the meat flavor wasn't as strong, the texture was more like a beef burger. It was juicy and buttery and felt fresh off the grill, which gave it an edge over the slider.Advertisement
Lastly, I went to Burger King in downtown Manhattan, New York, to try the Impossible Whopper.
The Impossible Whopper was $7.29, a comparable price to Carl's Jr.'s burger.Advertisement
And it was easily the biggest of the three burgers.
Inside the sesame buns, the burger held lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup, and mayonnaise.Advertisement
Like the Impossible slider at White Castle, the Impossible Whopper is made up of mostly soy protein, potato protein, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and heme.
There was no doubt that the Impossible Whopper looked the best.Advertisement
It looked more like a beef burger than any of its counterparts, and the bun kept the ingredients from spilling out.
But after taking a bite, I was underwhelmed.Advertisement
While the Impossible slider tasted more like meat, and the Beyond Famous Star felt more like meat ...
... the Impossible Whopper neither tasted nor felt particularly meaty, landing it in last place.Advertisement
But ultimately, I was impressed by how much all three burgers resembled beef. Each one was enjoyable, and as a non-meat eater who was once skeptical of plant-based burgers, I would definitely eat any of these burgers again.