Beyond Meat vs Strong Roots

Meat-free face-off: Beyond Meat vs Strong Roots

  • Who wins the OPOH meat-free face-off battle of the plant burgers?
  • With a seemingly endless stream of meat-free products hitting the supermarket shelves in recent months, planning a plant-based meal has never been easier. But the choice can be a little overwhelming.
  • We asked two eager volunteers to try two products and give us their opinions.

The meat-free burgers

The Beyond Meat ‘Beyond Burger’ stormed onto the European meat-free scene in 2018, promising meat eaters a product resembling meat that they wouldn’t know was vegan. Strong Roots takes a different approach with burgers that are unmistakably made from vegetables.

Meet the meat-free taste testers

Helen: Helen has been vegan for 25 years and was vegetarian for seven years before that. Having not tasted meat for 32 years, she was particularly interested – and a little scared – to see how she would find a ‘meaty’ meat-free product such as the Beyond Burger.

Jack: Jack has been flexitarian for around five years. He eats vegetarian food at home but will eat meat out. He usually eats meat once a week. When asked about his motivation to try meat-free products he said, “I still have an attachment to having something meat-like as a central part of a meal and I’d like to show friends who still eat meat what the alternatives are”.

The Beyond Burger

Helen and Jack pan fried the Beyond Burger. They said it stayed together well and cooked and smelled like meat.

The Beyond Meat Burger certainly looks tasty

What were the taste and texture like?

Helen: I was nervous about this as I hadn’t eaten meat for so long. It looked and smelled meaty and is clearly designed with this in mind. Raw, it looks pink, just like meat and I had to defrost it in the fridge for 24hrs, which highlighted its similarity to meat. It has a chargrilled flavour you’d expect from a BBQ with a deep and rich flavour. It was the ‘chewiest’ vegetarian product I have ever eaten. One complaint I often hear from aspiring vegans and vegetarians is that the food is soft and they miss the chewy-ness of meat.  I personally disagree with this as there are many places to find crispy and chewy in a vegan diet, but for someone who misses that from meat, I think this burger is great.  I had to chew it a lot and when I cut it there was resistance.

Jack: Pretty much like meat! Really tasty!

How does it compare to meat?

Helen: I have not eaten meat for so long I cannot make an accurate comparison, but I believe this is the closest to meat that I’ve been in all my 32 meat-free years! For this reason I would not buy it again. I do not personally want to eat something that is like meat. However, I know it is a huge benefit for those who are vegetarian or vegan for ethical reasons and miss the taste of meat. I think it’s a great product for transitioning to a meat free life. 

Jack: I would say this meat-free burger is better than most meat products, particularly the cheaper varieties. I think to be a meat substitute it has to be at least as good if not better, and this one does it.

On a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to ever try the Beyond Burger again?

Helen: 1/10

Jack: 10/10

On a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to recommend the Beyond Burger to your meat-eating friends?

Helen: 9/10

Jack: 10/10

On a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to recommend the Beyond Burger to your vegetarian or vegan friends?

Helen: 7/10

Jack: 8/10

Any final thoughts about the Beyond Burger?

Helen: My personal preference with food is to make meals that do not have a need for meat replacement. There is such a rich variety of foods available, it seems a shame to me to try to replace meat. However, I can see the value of a product like the Beyond Burger for people who are transitioning to vegetarianism. My concern about these products is that they are lacking in nutrients. I’d say they are suitable to add to a balanced vegan diet to help with meat cravings.

Jack: I had actually tried the Beyond Burger before and was immediately and absolute convert! I think it’s a really great product and good source of fats and protein. I will definitely have it again.

Strong Roots Kale & Quinoa

Helen and Jack oven baked the Strong Roots burgers. They said the burgers stayed together and became crispy.

Strong Roots Kale & Quinoa burgers
Kale & Quinoa – the hipster choice?

What were the taste and texture like?

Helen: It was very subtle. It seemed to be entirely made of kale inside, coated with a crumb crust, which I’m guessing was the quinoa part.  There was not a huge amount of flavour.

Jack: It didn’t taste of that much really. I enjoyed the texture of the crisp outside more than the taste. It had a good crispy outside, but the middle was very soft. In a burger bun it fell apart and squished out of the side.

How does it compare to meat?

Helen: This made no attempt to be like meat.  Technically this is more in line with my preferences for ‘vegetables’ rather than meat replacement, but I could not see the point to it. 

Jack: It wasn’t anything like meat. I don’t think it’s a substitute really, but I would happily eat it as an alternative. I don’t personally feel strongly about whether it is like meat or not. It wouldn’t convert a meat eater though.

On a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to ever try Strong Roots burgers again?

Helen: 1/10

Jack: 6/10

On a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to recommend Strong Roots burgers to your meat-eating friends?

Helen: 2/10

Jack: 3/10

On a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to recommend Strong Roots burgers to your vegetarian or vegan friends?

Helen: 3/10

Jack: 6/10

Any final thoughts about Strong Roots burgers?

Helen: The reason I might buy a vegetarian burger would be to get a different texture, and this did not tick that box. It was quite tasty and was something to put in a bun, but I’d have had the same effect from steaming and seasoning some kale and putting that in a bun. The only time I can see that this might be useful is where you are in a social situation where everyone is eating a round meat product and you don’t want to feel left out. It’s very convenient, but at £3 for 5 burgers, I think it’s pretty expensive.

OPOH recommends

Check out these options for yourself. The Beyond Burger is available at Tesco and Ocado, while Strong Roots products are sold at many supermarkets including Sainsbury’s.