Burger wars: No bull burger vs beef burger

Unless you’ve switched off this month, you would’ve noticed an onslaught of vegan advertising and news. One of the adverts was for Iceland’s plant based “no bull burger”. So I decided to throw myself in the food wars ring by comparing how this plant based upstart compares against a real deal beef burger.

Where’s the fucking meat, Mum?

It’ll come as no shock that I love meat. I recently ate nothing but meat for an entire month. Meat is important to me: as a child I would sulk and refuse dinner when my mum decided to cook vegetarian.  But now that I’m old enough, I make sure that I never miss a double serving of meat.  This all means that I’m naturally inclined not to like this plant based burger. But, I’m going to be give it a go and compare it against a similarly priced beef product from the same store.

The upstart and the real deal

The two products are the ¬£2 “No Bull burger quarter pounders” with two patties and the ¬£2.25 Aberdeen angus quarter pounders with four patties. Both products were purchased on the same date and time from the same Iceland store in South London. While the variety of beef patties was far more extensive than plant based alternatives, the two products selected are the most similar in terms of value.

An image of boxed aberdeen beef burgers and no bull burgers from Iceland
The contenders: the aberdeen beef burgers and the no bull burgers from Iceland

In the first part of the test, I’m going to compare a cooked no bull burger pattie and a cooked Aberdeen angus pattie without anything else in order to test them on their own merits. The second test will compare the no bull burger and Aberdeen angus as part of a full burger.

Unboxing and cooking

The no bull burger looked a lot more appetizing straight out of the box with a chorizo-red colour compared to the pale pink beef burgers, but this is due to the artificial colouring in the no bull burger (more on this below). Both meat patties were very thick and were cooked according to instructions on the box.

An image of burger patties
The chorizo red No bull burgers pattie is in the foreground while the pinkish beef burger is in the background

Test 1: the pattie test

I started with the no bull burger pattie and cut into it. It looked meaty but with a weird red-brown colour, a bit like mince meat that has been left it the fridge for too long. I cut in and tried a piece. It tasted like paprika, not a bad taste but a weird one when it’s all you can taste. The texture of the no bull burger was unusual, I can’t think of how to describe it other than: it’s a bit mushy.

Comparing a beef pattie with a plant based
Comparing the two meat patties, the beef pattie on top and the no bull burgers pattie underneath

I switched to the beef pattie and immediately noticed the tang of beef. As I bit into the beef, juices came out and made the meat more succulent. This is something you just don’t get with the no bull burger.  However, the beef paddie was not perfect  either – it was compacted, dense and could have been juicier.

Test 2: All the toppings test

In this test I made two burgers with one no bull burger pattie and one aberdeen angus beef pattie. Apart from the patties the burger consisted of broiche buns, extra aged cheddar cheese, jack hawkins tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and home made burger sauce (a mixture of tomato sauce, mayonnaise and mustard).

A picture of the two burgers
The two burgers waiting to be analysed

The no bull burger is definitely edible with all these ingredients but unless you’ve got too many condiments you will notice the difference: the no bull burger lacks that juicy or fattiness that defines a beef burger.

An image of the burger cut in half
Cross sections of the burgers!!

Ingredients and nutrition

The difference in ingredients is striking. The beef burger has three ingredients, all of which are natural. 99% is beef while the rest is salt and pepper.  The no bull burger is described as a soy burger but only contains 20% soya protein (a super processed by-product of soya) along with a long list of other ingredients. The “beetroot red” colouring is what gives the “bleed effect” (I don’t understand why this is a thing).

In terms of nutrition, the beef patties have more than twice as much protein, while the no bull burgers have less fat and calories but more salt and carbohydrates.  You can see the comparison table below.

A nutrition table
Nutrition table

A paprika spiced melody of artificial ingredients

No bull burgers aren’t bad tasting but lack the texture and juiciness of the real thing. People who want to eat less meat might find these enjoyable, but need to think a bit deeper: is an imported premium priced, super processed soya product better than a domestically produced 99% beef burger?

Using the name “No bull”,  clearly suggests the product does not contain beef, but it also reads that there’s ‘no nonsense’ or ‘its the real deal’. Well, these no bull burgers may not have beef, but with an abundance of heavily processed ingredients it’s hard to consider them real. Look, choice is king and I’ll respect whatever you choose to eat, but if you want to go for plant based alternatives to meat,  be sure to ask yourself: just want the fuck am I eating and where did it come from?

No missed steak

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