How does A&W’s new meatless burger stack up?
By Duncan Fingarson, Senior Columnist
Recently, A&W launched a big advertising campaign for their new vegetarian offering, the Beyond Meat burger. The patty is made from an assortment of fruits and vegetables, according to A&W’s website, including beets, apples, pomegranates, and yellow peas. The marketing campaign claims it tastes “exactly like meat” and is consistent with A&W’s increased focus on the environment in its recent marketing. Yet how does it really stack up compared to one of the chain’s standard burgers?
The Beyond Meat burger comes with lettuce and tomato on it. So to make my taste test as even as possible, I also ordered A&W’s Mama burger with added lettuce and tomato. In terms of outward appearance, both burgers looked about the same. In terms of nutrition, based on the information on A&W’s website, the Beyond Meat burger has more sodium, less cholesterol, and a much greater percentage of daily iron. The Beyond Meat burger also has 100 extra calories and 9 extra grams of fat (though no trans-fat), for its extra 60 grams of total serving size.
Getting down to the experience of eating, the Beyond Meat burger is definitely one of the better veggie burgers I’ve tried. It’s got a good flavour, but that flavour isn’t meat. I also had difficulties with the texture. The Beyond Meat patty lacks the weight and resistance of true meat, and it’s difficult to tell what part of the burger you’re currently chewing on. As far as veggie burgers go, it’s not going to convince me to switch any time soon, but it’s certainly a step in the direction of making them more palatable to people who prefer meat.
The Mama burger, in comparison, is instantly recognizable as meat. It doesn’t blend together while you’re eating it, and it has that good burger flavour you want from your fast food. It is still fast food, of course, and while good, it did not blow me away. However, I would still take it over the Beyond Meat burger.
From a vegetarian perspective, the Beyond Meat burger is probably a good choice, though. It’s not cooked on a different grill, so it can’t be counted as vegan, but for vegetarian fare it was pretty tasty, and it’s a good reason to head to the A&W if you’re trying to decide what to get in the local mall food court. Having more options for people with dietary restrictions is always a good thing, and the chain’s effort to provide is laudable, even if their offering doesn’t quite satisfy the omnivores among us.