Nestle is joining the ranks of faux meat purveyors like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat with its very first vegan burger in the U.S. market. Under its Sweet Earth brand, the world's largest food company will launch the plant-based Awesome Burger at retailers nationwide this fall.
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Sweet Earth already makes veggie burgers, but this new one is the first to mimic the taste and texture of real beef. The brand, which Nestle acquired in 2017, makes an extensive line of vegetarian foods with meatless chicken, bacon, sausage, ham and more.
"We've got a great chew," Sweet Earth co-founder Kelly Swette told Fast Company. "It's very juicy. The color is very meaty, and it transforms as you cook it."
The non-GMO Awesome Burger will be made with yellow pea protein, water, coconut oil, wheat, canola oil and vegetable/fruit juice for color. The patty is high in protein, fiber, iron and vitamin C, and contains no artificial colors, preservatives, trans fat or cholesterol. Sweet Earth will make both conventional and organic versions of the product, which will launch simultaneously alongside new Awesome Grounds - an alternative to ground beef using the same ingredients that make up the meatless burger.
On the other side of the pond, Nestle recently launched a different vegan burger under its Garden Gourmet brand. The Incredible Burger hit store shelves around Europe in April, and McDonald's is currently serving the patty as part of the Big Vegan TS in Germany. One reviewer said it tastes just "like McDonald's always tastes," adding that "if you ate it with your eyes closed, you probably wouldn't be able to differentiate it from the chain's other burgers."
McDonald's outposts in the U.S. do not currently offer vegan burgers, but the chain's biggest competitor does. Burger King has been testing an incredibly successful Impossible Whopper at select locations around the country and is working on taking it national. Vegan eats at a burger giant? That's certainly one way fast food has changed since you were in high school.