Can a vegan beef burger ever taste like the real thing?

It’s the holy grail of meat-free foods: a burger that looks, tastes and smells like real thing. No wonder the Moving Mountains B12 patty, which has just launched at vegan and vegetarian mecca Mildreds, is being billed as the taste of the future.

Meaty and fibrous in look and texture, with the pink tint of medium-rare beef, this entirely plant-based burger is being billed as a tasty, healthy – and utterly convincing – alternative to meat.

So far US firm Impossible – which counts Bill Gates as an investor – has been leading the race to create the ultimate meat-free burger, with a patty so convincing it oozes meaty juices and, thanks to an iron-carrying plant molecule called ‘heme’, even has an authentic bloody tang.

Mildreds

But Simeon Van der Molen, the vegan CEO and founder of Moving Mountains, scoffs at this lab-grown meat substitute, pointing to the fact that his burger is made from real food: oyster mushrooms for succulence, chicory, onions for flavour, tomato, soy and wheat protein to boost the texture, coconut oil to provide the fatty consistency and beetroot to give it that distinctive colour – even if the exact recipe remains a closely guarded secret.

It’s also kosher and halal approved, contains your daily dose of B12 and is hormone, cholesterol and GMO-free. So far, so virtuous.

But does it pass the test? YOU magazine took a bite…

The look

At first glance my burger looked the part: a pink (the beetroot-induced ‘bleed’), firm-looking patty topped with tomato slices, lettuce and sandwiched between two brioche buns.

When cut into, the patty had the fibrous texture of more processed beef burgers, but the shape was the giveaway – rather than the smooth oval shape of a normal burger, this patty appeared more like an oversized puck and even had corners.

Mildreds

The taste

So, did this vegetable and protein concoction deliver the experience of eating a classic beef burger? Well… sort of.

Warm, with a meaty, if firm, texture, the burger had a similar ‘give’ to a medium to well-done meat patty, and there was a mild savouriness about it that paired well with the brioche bun. Shovelled down along with the thick-cut chips, it was part of a satisfying meal.

But like many soy protein products, the burger lacked the depth of flavour of beef, as well as the juiciness of the real thing.

The verdict

The Moving Mountains B12 burger might not deliver the full meaty, salty, umami hit of a beef burger but it’s certainly vastly superior to the usual vegetarian alternatives (dry bean patties, anyone?).

It has raised the bar for meat-free alternatives for veggies and vegans who like that sort of thing (many understandably have no interest in eating anything that looks, feels or approximates meat in any form), and for meat eaters who want to cut down on the animal proportion of their diet.

Will it fool a carnivore? Not a chance – but it might help you persuade them to go out for dinner at a vegan restaurant.

The Moving Mountains B12 burger is available at Mildreds Dalston. For more information, visit mildreds.co.uk

Review by Luisa Metcalfe