What does it look like to feed a hungry planet while feeding our deepest values?
One mission-driven company based in the heart of America’s Midwest thinks it’s found the answer, and I wanted to put its vision to the (taste) test.
Meet Hungry Planet™.
Here’s the idea: Hungry Planet is going way beyond free-range. It’s going totally “Range-Free™,” using fewer resources from start to finish to produce the same hearty, meaty texture people crave, but entirely from plants. The company is also taking a unique and inclusive approach to distribution. This is the first of the new wave of plant-based meat burgers to launch nationally—in red states and blue states; urban, suburban, and rural; hipster towns and everyday America.
Another fun fact: it’s not just better for the environment, it’s much easier on both the belly and the heart. Check out these enviable nutrition stats:
- 150 Calories
- 27g protein
- 2.5g Fat
- 7g fiber
On those facts alone–health, inclusivity, and sustainability–I was pretty near sold on the idea. I am a Millennial after all, and the idea of eating in alignment with my values and a greater mission is quite palatable. But taste is still king, and I knew I needed to check in with some carnivorous friends to make sure this plant-based option would actually satisfy a beef-burger craving.
Enter Chris and Alan. Both have enjoyed their fair share of veggie burgers, care about their health, and enjoy exploring the outdoors. They’re both concerned about climate change and environmental degradation, and they both think factory farming is fundamentally flawed. But they love beef. I’m hoping I can help them find a delicious solution for their cognitive dissonance.
I should reveal my bias in advance: I’m a little bit obsessed with these burgers, and with Hungry Planet’s commitment to bringing its compromise-free, better-for-you product to people across the nation, at an affordable cost. And I will confess that I ate four of them in the week leading up to this blog post just to be absolutely positive I could provide well-informed intel.
I do it all for you, dear readers.
Now, back to the tasting.
I ready the ingredients: the “ground beef” patties, avocado, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, Chao cheese, toasted buns, and some onions for caramelizing. Let the party begin.
When the thick patties start to sizzle in the pan, seasoned with mustard seed, sage, garlic, and cayenne, my confidence hits a high point and the warm kitchen has the feel of a North Carolina cookout in July, even though it’s December in San Francisco and The Postal Service, not The Allman Brothers, is playing on the turntable.
Sautéing these plant-based patties is nowhere near as risk-filled as the experience of cooking a beef burger, where a snap or pop of heated fat might leap from the pan. Apart from the differences stemming from its lower fat content, the Range-Free burgers cook up similarly to ground beef, maintaining a moist layer in the middle as the exterior darkens with a slight char.
I also noticed how solid the Range-Free patties are in comparison with many of the veggie burgers I’ve had in restaurants, which have a tendency to smoosh out of a bun like a puree at the slightest urging. Once the burger has been sautéed to my standards, I cross my fingers and start piling up the bun.
Not too shabby, eh?
The moment of reckoning has arrived:
Texture: Top marks. The Range-Free burger has a decidedly meaty mouthfeel, hearty consistency, and stands strong against my deluge of toppings.
Taste: The patty is mostly neutral, with nothing “veggie” about it. Tasters were satisfied, but thought it could use a heavier dose of spice and fat to exactly match beef’s flavor profile.
Availability: Hungry Planet just announced its coast-to-coast launch of the Range-Free burger! If you’d like your local burger joint of restaurant to carry the Range-Free burger, go to https://hungryplanet.us/nominate/ to submit your nomination!