No more worrying about where to get your protein and vitamins—the Beast Burger has your back

By Sara Angle and Rachael Schultz
February 13, 2015
Beyond Meat

A burger that packs more protein and iron than beef, more omegas than salmon, more antioxidants than blueberries, plus tons of calcium and a whole slew of vitamins-oh, and did we mention the burger is completely vegan and soy-free? It sounds too good to be true! But Beyond Meat's Beast Burger-available in Whole Foods nationwide as of this month-has answered the prayers of every active vegetarian tired of veggie burgers that disappoint in both nutrients and taste.

"More and more people are reducing their meat consumption, either for health or simply because there's really only so much lean meat you can eat in a week, but it's hard to find healthy vegetarian sources," says Beyond Meat's founder and CEO Ethan Brown. And you're typically healthier for it: Vegans have the lowest obesity rates among dietary categories, followed by vegetarians, according to a study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (Reap the benefits with these 5 Ways to Become a Part-Time Vegetarian.)

Most of them are driven by health concerns, but that's also the reason they end up going back. "Strict vegans and vegetarians are at risk for developing certain nutritional deficiencies, particularly iron, zinc, B-vitamins, calcium, vitamin D, and protein, which is often why they start incorporating animal products into their diet again," said Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., CEO and founder of NY Nutrition Group. (Find out how to handle those Vegetarian Diet Deficiencies.)

And when you're hitting the gym almost every day, these nutrients are even more important in order to build muscle, recovery, and keep your body healthy-hence our excitement over a patty that is not only free of meat but also full of all the nutrients athletes need, including 23 grams of protein. "It's not about making a soy mimic of steak, it's about delivering that same beneficial amino acid profile of beef, but without the animal," Brown explains. (What's an amino acid profile? Ask the Diet Doctor: Complete and Incomplete Proteins.)

It's not just the nutrients that Brown considered in creating the burger. "People are happy to give up meat for their health, but not that satiating feeling or satisfying texture," Brown adds. And he's right-most vegetarian meats are thick and chewy, missing the mark on meaty texture, and taste more vegetable patty than real burger. The Beast Burger achieves this with its ingredients: powdered pea protein, water, sunflower oil, among other nutrients and natural flavors.

Thankfully, Brown's company offers an alternative to this-and not just with their burgers. Beyond Meat makes an array of meat-free, protein-loaded, highly delicious meat mimics, including chicken strips, meatballs, and beef crumbles. (Other options for Vegetarian Protein: 12 Meat-Free Sources.)

While we were sold on the nutrient profiles-not to mention the company's conscientious mission to offset the environmental impact of meat production-there was one other major factor on our checklist: taste.

We tested their whole line of products, and our verdict: The nutrients aren't the only category Beyond Meat smokes their competitors in. Beyond Chicken has a remarkably pleasant texture akin to the real poultry-you can see and feel the stringy fibers like in real chicken. The Beyond Beef Crumbles are similar to seitan (another meat-free protein alternative), but satisfy the craving for sausage pizza better than any vegetarian pizza topping we've ever tasted. And the burger? It might not be as thick and juicy as a patty you formed yourself, but the texture is spot-on and better than most burgers you can get at a fast food joint or restaurant (and for under $5 a box!). You definitely won't feel like you're eating vegetables, which might just be the key to converting meat-lovers everywhere.