Impossible Burger, Beyond Meat, and other plant-based meat substitutes are among the most discussed food trends of the year. And yet despite a faux-meat market that’s crawling with competitors a Czech company is bringing a “beefy” new entry to the table.
ManaBurger is from Heaven Labs, a research start-up specializing in the production of functional food that launched a “food drink” in 2014. Like its sibling product, the ManaBurger is focused on complete nutrition, offering a plant-based alternative to beef that’s kind of a multi-vitamin in burger form.
“We are convinced that it is currently the healthiest vegetable burger in the world,” says co-founder of Heaven Labs Jakub Krejčík, who believes their alternative to meat is the most revolutionary nutritional product a Czech company has produced so far.
Despite its healthful associations, the alternative meat industry is not without its controversies; many brands have faced backlash for their high salt or sugar content with other issues, including a recent lawsuit involving Burger King’s “Rebel Burger,” courting scandal.
ManaBurger’s creators say their burger not only comprises an ideal ratio of nutrients, (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and fiber) but lower sodium and complex carbohydrate content than other brands. In a presentation to the press Krejčík revealed an ingredients list of plant proteins (pea, rice, hemp, mung, and algae proteins), high fiber and seaweed omega-3, unsaturated coconut and linseed oils, and 14 vitamins and 24 minerals.
The ManaBurger, which took Krejčík and his partner Marek Humpl (neither of them of vegetarians) three years of trial and error to create, is currently being manufactured at a plant in Prague. The pair says it’s made with natural dyes from beetroot and red pepper, with caramel giving it a darker shade upon cooking.
But don’t mistake their burger for vegan food, says Krejčík: “On the contrary. We want to offer an alternative to all who like meat and beef burgers, but want to enjoy a healthy, nutritionally full-fledged food that is considerably more environmentally friendly to produce.”
To that end, the company hopes to distribute ManaBurger via leading Czech restaurants and food delivery services. It has already launched advance sales in the Czech Republic, Germany, and the US.
All of this leads up to just one question: How does it taste?
Our burger was served in wax paper and topped with pickles, onion, and a slice of yellow vegan cheese for full food-truck effect. It was well spiced with a nice peppery bite. The texture had a bit of give and an unexpected smoky charcoal-grill taste. The mouthfeel was unusual at first but with consecutive bites, the components became a bit more harmonious. In terms of its beef-like structure, the ManaBurger certainly reigned supreme over a Rebel Whopper we recently sampled.
Krejčík believes it’s that real-beef sensation that will make ManaBurger lovers out of meat eaters: “We have developed a burger that has a great taste and the texture of real meat,” he says, adding that producing it is considerably more environmentally friendly, consuming half the amount of energy as beef production.
The pre-sale cost of the burger is 60 CZK for one serving (you can now pre-order them in boxes of 20). The product will be delivered to customers at the end of March next year and will gradually be available in regular supermarket chains.