As nutritious as they are, it can sometimes be hard to get excited about eating veggies. Although vegetables can be cooked in a multitude of imaginative ways, many people have an image of vegetables in their head and it’s pretty much a boring bowl of steamed broccoli. Now, don’t be mistaken, people still want the nutrients vegetables offer but many consumers are not all that crazy about the taste of veggies in raw form. Because of this, people are always looking for ways to make their vegetable consumption as exciting and flavorful as possible. Whether it’s stopping at a juice bar for a kale smoothie, finding the most epic avocado toast in town, or trying to hop on the spiralizer trend, consumers are all about “sneaking veggies in.” Well, students from McGill University’s Food Sciences Program took notice of this trend, and figured, what better comfort food to sneak veggies in then a burger?
We’re not talking about splicing beef with mushrooms, either. The McGill students set out on an endeavor much more challenging than that: to create a burger that was made almost completely from vegetables, but tasted like a beef burger. Well, considering they won first prize in one of the competitions of the annual Institute of Food Technologists Conference, an event that is considered one of the world’s largest gathering of food science professionals and a premiere event for food product developers, we’d say they did a pretty good job!
The patty, dubbed “Rephyll,” is made from nine ingredients: Shiitake mushrooms, black bean aquafaba, textured vegetable protein (TVP), pea protein, beet pulp, carrageenan, vegetable powders, locust bean gum, and natural flavoring like Kombu, Shiitake, and yeast extracts. Just one Rephyll patty packs a whopping 65 percent of an adult’s daily veggie requirement (as per USDA recommendations). The students, who made the patty with flexitarians in mind, also made sure that the patty smelled and cooked like a traditional kind.
The idea of a plant-based burger that sizzles and smells just like a beef one may not appeal to all vegans and vegetarians, but that’s not exactly the objective, here. Nowadays, vegans and vegetarians have a plethora of other plant-based options that don’t smell or taste like meat at all, they can opt for something other than Rephyll. But if having this realistic plant-based burger available motivates someone who would normally reach for a regular patty to reach for a veggie-based one, it’s significant. This essentially gives consumers the taste they crave in a much healthier form, something that could have an amazing impact on public health, and could help tackle the obesity and heart disease epidemic in the U.S. and around the world. Not to mention, it can get consumers to ditch their preconceived notions about plant-based food, realize that it can definitely be tasty, and by extension lead them to make food choices that are way better for the environment. And that’s a win for everyone.
Image source: Rephyll