Today, 5th of December of 2019, I was mind-blown by the latest evolution of complete foods. In a market where new products involve, more bars, RTDs and powder options (with rare exceptions like Feed. Crunchy) innovation seem staled. Up until, this morning, I Mana announced the world’s first plant based complete burger. Exactly, a burger that it is not only without animal based ingredients, but one that provides you with all the nutrients your body needs. Incredible, isn’t it? That’s what I though, and hence decided to write this Mana Burger review ASAP.
Mana Burger Review
Mana Burger is a very promising product with very good numbers. Price seems adequate, nutritional numbers are solid and it works well as a complete food product and as a “standard” food. However, the defining feature of its success will be how it tastes and how it feels. Something, that unfortunately I cannot comment on. Thus, I will hold my final judgement of Mana Burger until then.
What I like
1. A product everybody can like. While ultimately it will depend on the taste, this is a complee food product that won’t alienate most people. A product that is easier to like for those who don’t consume complete food.
2. Nutritionally well rounded. While I can have some critics about the carbohydrate content (really low), it is very similar in that regard to a beef patty. However, unlike in those, in Mana Burger you will find plenty of omega-3s, vitamins, minerals… and all the other nutrients your body needs.
3. Reasonably priced. It’s not the cheapest meal replacement out there, but for such a unique product the pricing seems right. Very competitive.
4. Does well against competition. Looking at the numbers, I must say that Mana Burger does well against non-complete patties and burgers.
What I dislike
1. All depends on the taste and texture. The main issue of the product is that no matter how good nutritionally is, the success will depend on the taste and texture.
2. No carbs. While it has plenty of fibers, there are no carbs in the patty (like in other burgers). This means that most people will have to compliment this with a bun, rice or other carbohydrate source.
3. Not available, yet. Mana Burger will not be available until March 2020 and most likely will only be sold in Europe to start with.
Mana Burger Nutrition
Mana Burger is a plant-based nutritionally complete burger. It contains no soy, no glute and no GMO ingredients. In fact, when we look at the ingredients, we can see many used in other Mana products ( rapesee, microalgae oil) paired with some new additions like pea, hemp, mung proteins.
% of Energy from Each Macronutrient
Ingredients: Filtered water, proteins (pea, algae, mung, hemp and brown rice), vegetable oils (rapeseed oil, microalgae oil Schizochytrium sp. , Sunflower oil, cold pressed coconut oil, cold pressed linseed oil), thickener (cellulose, methylcellulose), modified starch (potato), dye (beetroot juice, caramel), potassium chloride, sodium chloride, calcium carbonate, magnesium lactate, zinc gluconate, potassium iodate, vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, biotin, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D2, vitamin E, vitamin K, a mixture of tocopherols, a mixture of spices (black pepper, red sweet pepper, chili, oregano, allspice), smoky aroma, natural aroma.
One of the first things I noticed when looking at the nutritional label of Mana Burger was the lack of carbs. Only 4g per burger and 0.3g of sugar. It should come to not surprise if we compare it to beef burgers or even other plant based burgers.
In fact, Mana’s burger alternative has something “normal” ones don’t: fiber. Thanks to modified potato starch and cellulose, it has 4.2g of fiber (17% of RI); which makes it healthier than the alternatives. Nonetheless, it needs to be said that vegan burgers do tend to have fiber.
Beef, burgers and similar are often in our minds synonym of good protein. This should come to no surprise; since a 300kcal beef burger will provide you with roughly 29.5g of protein. The same calories of Mana Burger (1 serving) will give you 20g of protein.
Nevertheless, the quantity is not always synonym of quality. Achieving a complete amino acid profile with plant based proteins is sometimes a challenge (at least without affecting the taste). In order to solve this problem, Mana has gone for an extravagant combo of plant-based protein sources: pea, algae, mung, hemp and brown rice.
Why Use So Many Different Protein Sources?
The short answer is to provide you with all the essential amino acids you need per serving without affecting the taste. Or at least that’s my #1 theory of why this is.
When comparing to other plant-based (not lab grown) burger patties, this is a very unique mix. These tend to have a mixture of soy and wheat protein often.
The biggest difference between Mana Burger and other vegan burgers is the quantity of fat and the fatty acid composition.
Regarding the quantity, Mana Burger has double of what a vegan burger usually has. In fact, it is more in line with normal beef patties (10% fat), despite the fact that the fat content can vary wildly on these.
Most importantly, Mana Burger has something no other burger has: omega-3 fatty acids. One burger will provide you with enough EPA and DHA for the day.
Cooking the Mana Burger Might Change the Fatty Acid Profile
One aspect about Mana Burger that I am not sure about is how cooking will affect its nutrients. Vitamins and minerals can be lost in this process, but also omega-3 fatty acids.
Particularly, frying at high temperatures and overcooking can cause changes in the fatty acid composition (like loss of DHA and EPA).
Speaking of heating and nutritional value loss; this is often the case for vitamins and minerals. It was a concern for other similar complete food, like Base Noodles. Heat is often damaging and causes micronutrients to dissipate.
According to Mana, if you follow the cooking instructions (3 minutes grill each side) this loss should be minimal. Longer cooking times will have a negative effect.
Nevertheless, it is worth noting that many of the micros (except manganese) are in abundance in Mana Burger.
Mana Burger does not contain any major allergens, but it has coconut.
Mana Burger vs
I love to compare and search for the best meal replacements. However, I must say that Mana Burger is nothing like I’ve seen before in the industry. Perhaps, the ramen options (Vite Ramen and Base Noodles) being the closest. Thus, I have added some comparisons to lab grown meat and vegan patties.
- Mana Burger vs Beyond Burger by Beyond Meat.
- Vegan Burger vs Mana Burger.
- Mana Burger vs Mana Powder.
Mana Burger vs Beyond Meat vs Vegan Patty vs Beef
This is certainly the most unusual and unique comparison that I’ve made in this page. I thought that compiling them all in one big face-off was the most relevant way to do it.
- MB -> Mana Burger.
- BM -> Beyond Burger by Beyond Meat.
- VP -> Vegan burger from supermarket.
- BP -> Beef patty 10% fat.
Prices will vary in the country, quality of meat/product. I used UK Sainbury’s burger and Quorn burger prices.
Standardized for 400kcal.
The biggest outlier is the Vegan patty which is not designed to have the same texture and flavour as the “normal” beef hamburger.
It is important to note that vitamins and minerals were not plotted, in which case only Mana Burger will have enough for all of them.
Ingredients MB: Filtered water, proteins (pea, algae, mung, hemp and brown rice), vegetable oils (rapeseed oil, microalgae oil Schizochytrium sp. , Sunflower oil, cold pressed coconut oil, cold pressed linseed oil), thickener (cellulose, methylcellulose), modified starch (potato), dye (beetroot juice, caramel), potassium chloride, sodium chloride, calcium carbonate, magnesium lactate, zinc gluconate, potassium iodate, vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, biotin, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D2, vitamin E, vitamin K, a mixture of tocopherols, a mixture of spices (black pepper, red sweet pepper, chili, oregano, allspice), smoky aroma, natural aroma.
Ingredients BM: Water, Pea Protein Isolate*, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Rice Protein, Natural Flavors, Cocoa Butter, Mung Bean Protein, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Apple Extract, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vinegar, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Pomegranate Fruit Powder, Beet Juice Extract (for color).
Ingredients VP: Mycoprotein (56%), Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin & Thiamine), Vegetable Oils (Sunflower, Rapeseed), Potato Protein, Pea Fibre, Wheat Starch, Wheat Gluten, Firming Agents: Calcium Chloride, Calcium Acetate, Natural Flavourings, Kibbled Chilli, Parsley, Salt, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Yeast, Stabilisers: Carrageenan, Sodium Alginate, Tomato Powder, Spices (Cayenne Pepper, White Pepper), Rice Flour, Spice Extracts (Black Pepper, Cayenne, Ginger), Colour: Paprika Extract
Ingredients BP: Beef (90%), Water, Onion, Breadrumb (Rice Flour, Gram Flour, Maize Starch, Salt, Dextrose), Seasoning (Salt, Sugar, Black Pepper, Preservative: Sodium Metabisulphite, Sunflower Oil, Antioxidant:Ascorbic Acid).
What Should I Buy?
That will obviously depend on the availability and what you are looking for. Your standard vegan patty will not be anything like the beef burger, the texture and the taste being completely different.
Beyond Meat and Mana are looking to imitate the texture of beef burgers, thus will be a better alternative for those looking to replace these. However, they are not widely available yet.
Between these two, Mana Burger offers a more complete and healthier alternative. You will have better, more complete protein sources, as well as, all the essential amino acids your body requires.
Mana Burger vs Mana Powder
Conceptually, these are two different products. Mana Powder is not only designed to be complete, but it is also a more portable and convenient food option.
Mana Powder: Origin, Love (Berries), Dream (Cacao), and Sunlight (Tropical).
|Price||Mana Burger||Mana Powder|
|per 400 (expensive)||3.13||1.77|
|per 400 (cheapest)||3.13||1.44|
Mana Origin Powder is cheaper than the flavoured versions.
|per serving||Mana Powder||RI (%)||Mana Burger||RI (%)|
|Trans fat (g)||0.0||–||0.0||–|
Mana Burger has significantly more protein and fats than Mana Powder has. In fact, it is also higher in saturated fats, something that might be a red flag for some.
On the other hand, despite being incredibly low in carbs, the amount of fiber in both is similar (high for both). Mana Burger is low in sugars, since it does not have any isomaltulose.
What Should I Buy?
Currently, only Mana Powder is available. Even then, they are two different products for different audiences. Mana Burger is, in theory, the tastier alternative that can be cooked together with some fries or salad for a healthy dinner. Mana Powder will appeal more to those who want proper nutrition on the go or for those situations where cooking is a nuisance.
More About Mana Burger
This Mana Burger review deserves an extension to analyze some of the other features this product brings. This is a spin to what most complete foods are; including what they aim to accomplish often: a balanced and complete on the go nutrition.
While the second part is not always true, it is a feature that powders, RTDs and bars bring. One that many might consider essential.
Why Develop a Burger?
In part, it is a great way to incentive people to eat healthy and change the habits of people. Instead of “forcing” them to eat shakes that don’t look tasty or don’t look like food; taking an already known meal and making it complete is easier to sell.
No doubt that this is great to help the environment and make us eat more healthy, but it is also a great way to make a successful product.
Mana has been developing alternative, nutritionally complete plant foods with a view to sustainable crop production and eco-friendliness since 2014.
Burgers, in the mind of many, might be the tastiest meal in the world and that are widely consumed. In the US alone, 50 billion burgers are eaten a year, both in restaurants and households. On top of that, vegan burgers and/or plant-based burgers are on the rise with companies like Beyond Meat being worth up to $11.7 billion.
Thus, I think that Mana sees this as a great way to put complete foods out in the market, as well as, take benefit of a growing demand for such product.
Is Mana Burger the Healthiest Burger You Can Eat?
We have developed a burger that has a great taste and texture like real meat, its production is considerably more environmentally friendly and the energy consumption is half that of beef production. But most of all, we have been able to develop a vegetable burger that is complete in nutritional terms and contains the ideal ratio of all the nutrients you need according to scientific recommendations. We are convinced that it is currently the healthiest vegetable burger in the world.Jakub Krejcik CEO of Mana, Forbes.
Mana Burger is certainly more complete than any other burger in the market. If this alone makes it healthier, then perhaps it is the healthiest.
However, there are aspects in which Mana Burger might be weaker than the traditional beef burger. For once, you would have to analyze the bioavailability and absorption of the amino acids in both. It would also be interesting to see whether there are important compounds in meat that are not present in Mana Burger; such as, creatine, taurine, CLA etc. Some of these chemicals have important roles in muscle development, exercise performance, anemia prevention etc.
When compared to other similar concepts like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, I would say mostly yes. It is similar to them (processed mesh of plant-based ingredients), but has added nutrients that the others do not have.
Most ways of cooking your usual burgers will work with Mana Burger. One thing I would take into account, though, it’s the time you cook it for. Due to the nature of vitamins and minerals, they can be lost if overcooked. The current recommendations from Mana are to grill them for 3 minutes for each side.
Another point to consider is that adding oil will change the nutrition of the patties. On top of that, when you add the buns, the ketchup, the mayonnaise or any other condiment of your choice, be aware that you will be adding calories and other nutrients.
Packaging and Storing
Mana Burger is a frozen product that will come in boxes of 20 (shown above). Thus, you will need to store them in the freezer, unlike any other meal replacement.
Once in the freezer, Mana guarantees a one year best before date.
A great argument in favour of Mana Burger is the lesser environmental impact it has when compared to beef patties. While some of this should be analyzed in case-by-case basis, i.e. vs local grass-fed beef, in most cases Mana Burger will be more environmentally friendly.
One interesting comparison would be to compare Mana Burger vs Mana Powder.
Other Reviews and Testimonials
Unfortunately, I have not been able to try Mana’s new product. So far, only selected few journalist and Mana workers were fortunate enough to try it.
They were great. The burgers were hot, red, thick and served in a Kaiser roll with pickles, vegan cheese and some other stuff – I was enjoying it so much I forgot to take note. Prague Daily
I will try to update this section, as I get more opinions.
Mana Burger FAQ
Yes, like other Mana products this is 100% plant based.
I would advice against doing so, for a few reasons, including the high fat content, and high saturated fat content. Excessive levels of DHA and EPA are not very healthy, either.
Yes, Mana Burgers are gluten-free, soy-free and GMO-free.
Apparently, Mana Burger will be available in the US on the second half of 2020! Price will start at $73 per 20 pack or $3.65 per burger (300kcal).
There will be a small loss of vitamins and minerals; more the longer you cook it. It is possible that some of the essential omega-3 is lost in the cooking process.
The estimation is that this product will be available in March of 2020 in their online store. The burger can only be pre-ordered in Germany, Czechia and the US.
This will be a frozen product, thus it should be stored in the freezer at -18C.
Once frozen, it is designed to last one year.
Mana Burger is a revolutionary complete food option. A plant-based burger that gives you all your body requires. All, in one of the most popular formats in the world, a burger. In my mind, it sounds great, and I surely hope it is. But like with most other burgers, the deciding factor will be the taste and the texture; and whether it can compete with the traditional beef patty.
Because, in most other aspects Mana Burger beats it. It is more environmentally friendly (in most cases), has a very competitive price, and nutritionally is better rounded.
As a complete food or meal replacement, it is not here to replace my shakes or bars (which I regularly consume for breakfast and lunch); but to offer another complete alternative for my cooked meals. As such, it is welcome, more so when it is more affordable than other similar ideas (Base Noodles).
All in all, I look forward to try it, and I will reserve my final say until then. So far, very promising, though.