29. Jun, 2019

A meat alternative worth sinking your teeth into

Is a burger really a burger without beetroot? Traditionalists think not, but there is no denying the diversity of burgers available for consumption in Australia today. If they're that passionate about one of the fillers, I wonder how they feel about the meat patty? 

I have consumed my fair share of burgers. Back in my red and processed meat-eating days (hello 80s and 90s), I loved nothing more than treating myself to a bacon and egg roll or Aussie style burger with beetroot, what I now call 'plastic' cheese, and pineapple (don't hate me), slathered in tomato sauce. 

Thankfully the days of vegetarians having no choice other than lentil burgers have progressed since then too.  As tasty as some of them are, when you feel like a burger, you want something with a more 'meaty' texture. If you haven't tried the most recent Aussie alternative meat burger product launched yourself never fear, because I have reviewed it for you below. All in the name of science of course. 

Product information

The Alternative Meat Burger is made by The Alternative Meat Co, which is owned by the same people that bring us the Vegie Delights brand: Central-Coast based Life Health Foods.  

Nutrition 

The patty weighs approximately 110g and contains an impressive 20g of vegetable protein (soy, wheat and pea).  Alongside an 85g beef (10% fat) patty which has 22g of protein, it compares quite favourably. Coupled with current evidence which is telling us that plant protein is more beneficial though, it makes the former a clear choice for the health-conscious. As long as they are not intolerant of or allergic to soy, wheat or gluten that is, because it contains all of those.

Dietary fibre is not something you usually expect to find on the nutrition panel of a burger patty, but no-one is happier than this fibre and microbiome-mad nutritionist to see it there.

A big tick also for the use of natural colours and flavours. I am conscious of the fact that it is more expensive, but am personally happy to pay more for better quality ingredients.

The fact that vegetable oil is the third ingredient listed accounts for the 14% fat content, but despite looking on their website for information on the specific type of vegetable oil (hoping it was olive oil due to the stated level of saturated fat), I was unable to locate it.

Sodium content should not be an issue for people basing their diet on predominantly whole foods. After all, a burger is an occasional food not a staple. Having said that, at slightly over a quarter of the maximum recommendation of 2300mg/day, adding cheese and/or other sodium-containing ingredients could easily push this up to half or more of your daily intake. 

People with hypertension, kidney disease, or diabetes, and older and overweight Australians are particularly susceptible to the effect that excess sodium has on blood pressure. However it is prudent that we are all aware of our sodium intake, given that as a nation we consume more than 4 times the daily maximum recommended.

Availability 

Currently only in Coles supermarkets. 

Cost 

$8 per pack, with pack containing 2 thick patties. You may baulk at the price comparison, but consider how much a store-bought burger costs nowadays. You're lucky if you get change from $10.  

At $36/kg it sounds more expensive still, but again, consider the price for a store-bought burger and weigh it up against the pros: nutrition; sustainability; environmental impact; ability to control cooking method and other ingredients etc. There are no cons other than price and packaging that I could find, but more on that next. 

Packaging 

Both hard and soft plastic components are now recyclable, with Coles having soft recycling bins in the front of almost all of their stores now. Would I prefer it was in the deli section & I could buy it wrapped in butcher's paper? Sure, but the current packaging protects the product from spoilage, so it's a trade-off. Less spoilage equals less waste for retailers, which equals lower prices for us consumers. Affordability is a known barrier to healthy eating, so keeping the price as low as possible for healthy options is important if we are trying to improve eating habits at a population level. 

The Assembled Product 

You may be a traditional tomato sauce fan, and that is fine, but I have come to prefer aioli as a binder for salad leaves.  

Building my Meat Alternative Burger hence began with Mrs Oldbucks Mustard Dill Aioli, from just up the road in Berrima, NSW.  Coupled with a lovely 4 leaf mix, beetroot, and half a slice of tasty cheese, my small multigrain roll overfloweth, so it was time to tuck in. 

Of course it doesn't taste exactly the same as a beef patty, it's far less greasy, which is awesome.  The texture is pretty much spot on though, and that’s really important in a burger, because it contains many other ingredients that influence the overall taste after all. 

Rating 

8.5 / 10