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Miami Burger, a vegan burger launched earlier this month, has been described as the ‘healthier challenger’ to plant-based rivals including the Impossible Burger. Verdict Foodservice spoke with the two companies to see how they make their burgers and to find out if their main objective is offering a healthier alternative or bringing awareness to meat eaters about plant-based alternatives.

Plant-based alternatives to meat products are a popular trend for vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters, whether chosen for health and environmental reasons or for consumers to cut down on the amount of meat they are eating. More companies are now producing plant-based alternatives including Beyond Burger, Moving Mountains, the Impossible Burger and now the Miami Burger. We asked the makers of these last two to pitch their patties.

Miami Burger

Miami Burger currently supplies its product directly and through London distributors, London restaurant chains and its Facebook page, but the company now wants to have a more nationwide foodservice presence. There are currently two Miami Burger locations in the UK, Shoreditch and a test restaurant in Reading, and the company has launched its product in more than 280 Morrisons stores across the UK.

Miami Burger food development chef Tom Halford said: “We’ve gone for rapeseed oil, which out of the 32 cooking oils is available, is the healthiest in terms of saturated fat and it’s also high in Omega3 and monounsaturated fat. It’s more expensive, but it’s the right thing to do for us, and the right thing to do for people buying it. Coconut oil is very high in saturated fat and mass palm oil production is not a great friend on our planet.

“We’ve mixed it with water, so the burger still has a great juiciness profile, but it has 0.6g of saturated fat, unlike market leaders of which have up to 3,000% more, i.e. 18g of saturated fat per patty.

“In terms of texture or flavour, the burgers are ‘meatier’ and more flavoursome. Meat by itself isn’t that flavoursome, so a beef burger by itself, without the herbs and seasoning, isn’t that tasty at all. What we’ve tried to do is created a very-well seasoned burger, that tastes really nice, rather than directly replicating an unseasoned burger. So we’ve chosen flavour above trying to achieve a meticulous similarity to beef.

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“The market leaders have done an amazing job in giving plant-based consumers choice, but with 65% of the UK population overweight and 29% clinically obese, we are here to offer everyone a genuinely healthy burger patty. It’s great-tasting plant-based food without the bad stuff.”

Impossible Burger

Impossible Burger launched last year as one of the first convincing plant-based alternatives to meat. Also known as the’ bleeding’ vegan burger, it is now available in over 2,000 restaurants with fast food chain Burger King introducing the Impossible Burger to its menu after its plant-based meat upgrade in January this year to ‘eliminate the need for animals in the food chain.’

A spokesperson for manufacturer Impossible Foods said: “We don’t principally market the Impossible Burger as a health-conscious alternative to other veggie burgers. We specifically aim the product at meat eaters because our mission is to replace the use of animals as a food technology, by outperforming animal-based technology in delivering pleasure, nutrition and value to meat lovers. We don’t market it to vegetarians or vegans looking for a plant-based product based because they are already eating with a fairly light environmental footprint. In fact, we hope the Miami Burger and other plant-based foods do well that will simply help accomplish our mission of making the global food system sustainable.

“Our research shows very clearly those meat eaters in America and around the world care about animal welfare, public health and the environment. They aren’t willing to sacrifice any of the pleasure they get from eating meat, but most meat lovers would welcome, and actually prefer meat products made from plants – as long as they deliver uncompromising meat flavour and deliciousness. Omnivores need a product that satisfies their deep cravings for meat from animals. That’s what the Impossible Burger does – and because we make it from plants, our product has a much lower environmental impact than burgers from cows. A quarter pound of 80/20 ground beef from cows contains 9g of saturated fat -45% of recommended daily intake –  versus 8g of saturated fat – 40% – in a quarter pound of the current version of the Impossible Burger.

“In January 2019, we launched the first major product upgrade since our 2016 debut – the Impossible Burger 2.0. This version has 30% lower sodium and 40% less saturated fat than the original 1.0 version. The new Impossible Burger has as much bioavailable iron and protein as a comparable serving ground beef from cows. In addition, the new Impossible Burger has 0 mg cholesterol, 14 grams of total fat and 240 calories in a quarter pound patty. A quarter-pound, conventional “80/20” patty from cows has 80mg cholesterol, 23 grams of total fat and 290 calories.”