The DUC-ling, notorious for mediocre vegetarian and vegan options, made a surprise move when it supported Interdisciplinary Studies major Isaac Goldman (19C) in his environmental initiative to test the Beyond Burger for a week at the DUC-ling.
The Beyond Burger, a product from the company Beyond Meat, is “the world’s first plant-based burger that looks, cooks and tastes like a fresh beef burger” according to the company’s website. While already sold at nearby grocery stores, including Kroger and Whole Foods, this is the first time that Bon Appetit offered a plant-based, non-GMO and vegan burger at the DUC-ling.
As a lifelong vegetarian, I knew I had to try to the Beyond Burger to see if it lived up to the hype. I’ve tried myriad veggie burgers from different Atlanta restaurants, including the quinoa burger from Farmburger, the “Impossible Burger” from Grindhouse Killer Burgers and even the Woodruff Cafe’s sad excuse for a veggie patty. So after class, I made my way to a moderately crowded DUC-ling to begin my investigation.
I became visibly worried when I received my Beyond Burger in a stale, uninspired bun. The patty came without additional ingredients and looked like a hockey puck wedged between two pieces of tasteless bread. I immediately headed to the salad bar to salvage my burger with a few basic ingredients. After administering a slice of tomato, a leaf of lettuce and a generous dousing of ketchup, I found a seat at an empty table and examined the plate before me. I tenderly picked up the burger and winced at the unusual construction. The burger lacked a savory aroma to put me at ease and did not boast the juicy texture that its website promised. Additionally, the portions were small, so the burger seemed more like a slider than the full-fledged coronary assault a carnivore might find somewhere like Cookout.
With reluctance, I took my first bite and much to my astonishment, I was immediately hit with a barrage of flavor. Although the outside crust was firm, the inside crumbled apart like a mediterranean falafel. The ketchup I had smeared across the entire burger seemed like a mistake, interrupting the burger’s hearty savoriness. When I returned for a second and then, embarrassingly, a third serving, I excluded the other ingredients, although one of my friends suggested adding hummus.The burger’s dense texture remained consistent throughout the meal and tasted like a substantive protein option that could sustain me for the rest of the evening.
Goldman, a vegetarian for 13 years, said that the Beyond Burger differs from other veggie burgers because it contains fat from refined coconut oil that, when grilled, mimics the fat and “meatiness” in beef patties. Since the product is shipped frozen like real meat, Goldman said it is able to stay fresh much longer. The burger itself only requires three to three-and-a- half minutes grilling time.
“Meat is one of those textures that you don’t forget,” Goldman said. “[It’s] validation when my friends who eat meat are willing to take … meat out of their diet to eat this.”
Goldman said that the DUC-ling would consider permanently offering the Beyond Burger if last week’s initiative went well. That being said, since the burger might cost more than other meat options, patrons would have to consume more vegan patties overall.
All in all, I was very impressed. If the DUC-ling starts carrying the Beyond Burger, I will be the first in line for the next serving.