This Vegan Ground Beef Burger Sold Out of Whole Foods in an Hour

The plant-based product made its supermarket grand debut yesterday at a branch of Whole Foods in Boulder and sold out in an hour.

Alex Swerdloff

Photo via Flickr user pointnshoot

Vegetarians can lie to themselves and say they don't really crave meat, but now we all know the nasty truth. What everyone wants is a bloody slab of flesh. Just ask Beyond Meat.

They're the maker of something called Beyond Burger, a a plant-based meat alternative whose claim to fame is that it "bleeds like a real burger." The burger made its supermarket grand debut yesterday at a branch of Whole Foods in Boulder and sold out in an hour.

Said to have the texture of real beef, Beyond Burger gets its bloody deliciousness from beet juice. Making a faux burger taste and feel like a real burger is no easy feat to accomplish, and the company says that it took them seven years to hit it. Researchers from Stanford University were brought in to help. The resulting burgers contain no gluten or soy and get their 20 grams of protein from something called pea protein, which is derived from the yellow pea known as Pisum sativum.

Those in the know seemed to know in advance that Beyond Burger—which retails at $5.99 for two patties—would be a big hit. Bill Gates invested in Beyond Meat—he bought in after finding that their chicken replacement tasted a lot like the real stuff. Google recently tried to buy Beyond Meat outright, but they couldn't agree on a price, despite Google's offer of between $200 and $300 million.

Part of the burgers' success as a beef simulacrum may lie in how it is sold: You'll find it in the refrigerator case near the ground beef, rather than the freezer along with the cardboardy veggie burgers we're all used to.

Manufacturers of meatless burgers seem to realize that bloodiness is the holy grail. Beyond Burger may rely on the lowly beet; Impossible Foods—another meatless burger company, but one that is targeting the restaurant market—says it is making use of heme, a molecule found in hemoglobin that is responsible for the irony-y, "beefy" taste often associated with meat.

Face it: We're all a bunch of animals, intent on savoring the sanguine drippings from a piece of protein, no matter where that protein comes from. In short, we want our burgers to bleed—even if it's just for show—and Beyond Meat knows it.