A veggie burger that bleeds and other fake meat trends

Homestretch Food Trends columnist Elizabeth Chorney-Booth likes the much-touted Beyond Meat burger with the added beet juice that makes it look and cook like real beef.

That childhood, nostalgic memory of a real burger, but with beet juice instead of blood

'I would not mistake it for meat, but it was actually pretty good,' says CBC Calgary The Homestretch's Food Trends columnist Elizabeth Chorney-Booth of the Beyond Meat burger. (Elizabeth Chorney-Booth)

Will a veggie burger that bleeds be the next great meat-free trend? By Leonardo DiCaprio's recent investment in the Beyond Meat burger, he certainly hopes so, but The Homestretch's Food Trends columnist, a lapsed vegetarian herself, isn't so sure.

"I would not mistake it for meat, but it was actually pretty good," Elizabeth Chorney-Booth said Wednesday.

"It came on a bun with all the fixings. The texture was very, very meat-like. If you are looking for a vegetarian option that gives you that childhood, nostalgic memory of a real burger, it will do the trick."

It's not, however, like cutting through a rare steak, but the added beet juice makes it look and cook like real beef.

"The 'blood' makes it sizzle when you put it on the grill," Chorney-Booth said.

And restaurants are taking notice.

"It is available in Calgary at The Street Eatery, which does other vegetarian things as well as meaty options, and The Palomino Smokehouse, which is basically the meatiest restaurant in town."

Elizabeth Chorney-Booth is The Homestretch's Food Trends columnist. (David Bell/CBC)

She says it's pretty popular in the U.S. at food stores and restaurant chains.

Chorney-Booth says she worshipped at the veggie altar in the 1990s.

"A lot of my friends from back then started eating meat again, including myself, but I find a lot of them are going back to vegetarianism."

And sophisticated meat-like substitutes might be part of that movement back.

The Impossible Burger, along the lines of Beyond Meat, is growing in popularity stateside.

"It is scientifically engineered to be nearly identical to meat. Scientists have isolated the molecules that make meat taste and look like meat, and they have recreated them out of something called soy leghemoglobin. It's very sci-fi and it's kind of weird," Chorney-Booth explained.

But right now you'll have to take a day trip to Spokane, Wash., it you want to try it out, because that's the closest place that sells it, she said.

There are some other newish trends and old standbys in the veggie world.

A woman at a bazaar in Myanmar sells jackfruit, which Chorney-Booth says, 'is also really trendy.... A lot of people make 'pulled pork' products out of jackfruit.' (Aung Shine Oo/The Associated Press)

"Jackfruit is also really trendy. It has the consistency of a fig, it's sticky. A lot of people make 'pulled pork' products out of jackfruit," Chorney-Booth said.

"There's a product called seitan, which is a gluten-based meat product that is used in a lot of Asian cooking, especially in Buddhist communities."

You might be familiar with Buddha's Veggie on Macleod Trail.

"They do veggie everything: veggie ginger beef, veggie chicken balls, and crispy eel and lemon chicken and spicy dry ribs. That's all made of this gluten-based fake meat."

Chorney-Booth says The Coup on 17th Avenue S.W. has a coconut bacon which can go on a BLT.

"The Street Eatery also does vegan wings," she said.

"They do a wing night. Vegetarians like their buffalo sauce too."

We've all been to a barbecue where there are veggi burgers on the grill. Sometimes they are orange or green. Other times they look just like meat! More and more Calgary restaurants are offering vegetarian dishes that work hard to immitate meat -- even going so far as making a veggi burger that bleeds! That got us wondering: why is this a thing? Our Homestretch Food Trends columnist, Elizabeth Chorney-Booth, joins us now in studio to try to answer this question. Elizabeth is a Calgary-based food writer and our guide to restaurant and food trends in Southern Alberta. She joined host Doug Dirks in studio. 7:54

With files from The Homestretch