If you pay any attention to the world of meat alternatives, then you've probably heard of Beyond Meat (and likely its biggest competitor, Impossible Foods). But if you've never tried their vegan meat products, then you've come to the right place. Because in this Beyond meat review, we're going to look at what you can expect from all their products, from the ever popular Beyond Burger to less famous offerings like Beyond Chicken and Beyond Sausage. So what are you waiting for? Let's go!
Who Is Beyond Meat?
Founded by CEO Ethan Brown in 2009, Beyond Meat was created with a mission of decreasing the harmful impacts of meat-based agriculture by offering vegan alternatives to real meat. In so doing, the company's founder believes Beyond Meat can help mitigate many of the problems associated with animal agriculture, including climate change and animal welfare issues.
In fact, according to the company's website, a life cycle analysis conducted by the University of Michigan comparing the Beyond Burger to a quarter pound beef burger found that the meatless burger required 99% less water, 93% less land, and 46% less energy to produce and led to 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, Beyond Meat was named company of the year by the nonprofit People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in 2013, the same year its products debuted on store shelves.
Unlike many of its competitors, Beyond Meat also refuses to use gluten or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in any of its products, and it sources most of its ingredients from organic sources.
Now that you've got an idea of the company behind the products, it's time for the reviews!
Beyond Chicken was the first product released by Beyond Meat. Sold initially through Whole Foods beginning in 2013, Beyond Chicken strips were available at grocery stores and fast-food restaurants in the United States—that is, until 2019, when the company quietly pulled them from store shelves due to lack of sales.
Though Beyond Chicken had a small but devoted following, others found the vegan chicken alternative by turns not very chicken-like and too eerily similar to chicken, prompting some to compare it to a robot simulation of chicken.
However, the company has stated that it's working on a reboot, and it even staged a test run of the new formula in August 2019 at fast-food restaurant Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), where the faux nuggets sold out in less than 5 hours.
Developed in 2014, Beyond Beef became the second vegan meat product rolled out by Beyond Meat. Like its predecessor, Beyond Chicken, Beyond Beef has both fans and detractors (including some who can't get past the smell, which is described as everything from "processed" to "litter box").
However, if you look closely at the reviews, you'll see that the people who love Beyond Beef are, by and large, meat eaters, while the people who find it, well, gross, are either vegetarian or vegan.
And this makes sense.
After all, if you don't eat meat, then you probably don't want to eat a product that simulates meat.
That being said, if you're looking for plant-based ground beef, Beyond Beef hits all the right notes. First of all, it may come as a plastic-wrapped slab, but it's easily torn apart and molded into patties—or placed in a skillet and browned for tacos, meatballs, you name it.
And the addition of coconut oil to the formula means that cooking Beyond Beef brings with it the familiar sound of beef sizzling in the pan. Plus, the use of both beet juice and apple extract gives you a product that may start out pink but turns brown as it's cooked, just like real beef.
As for the taste, again, if you're already a meat eater, the taste and texture may blow your mind. However, if you don't eat meat, and haven't for a long time, Beyond Beef may creep you out.
In addition, like other plant-based meat alternatives, Beyond Beef is a highly processed food—though its ingredients are at least easily identifiable. Check them out.
|Water||Pea protein isolate|
|Expeller-pressed canola oil||Reﬁned coconut oil|
|Rice protein||Natural flavors|
|Cocoa butter||Mung bean protein|
|Lemon juice concentrate||Sunﬂower lecithin|
|Pomegranate fruit powder||Beet juice extract|
And when it comes to the nutrition facts, Beyond Beef contains the following.
|250 calories||390 milligrams of sodium|
|18 grams of fat||20 grams of protein|
|6 grams of saturated fat||3 grams of carbs|
|0 grams of cholesterol||8% of the RDA of calcium|
|2 grams of fiber||25% of the RDA of iron|
The Beast Burger
After Beyond Beef, but before the Beyond Burger, there was ... the Beast Burger. The first vegan burger patty offered by Beyond Meat, the Beast Burger was made available to the public in 2015.
Interestingly, unlike both Beyond Beef and the Beyond Burger, the Beast Burger appealed more to vegetarians and vegans than true meat eaters. But considering that Beyond Meat is attempting to lure more lovers of red meat away from animal-based products, it isn't surprising that the Beast Burger was eventually revamped as the Beyond Burger.
You can also tell how things changed by taking a gander at the Beast Burger ingredient list:
|Pea protein isolate||Natural flavoring|
|Essential fatty acid oil blend (DHA algal oil, flaxseed oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, palm oil)||Beyond nutrient blend (vegetable nutrient extract blend—spinach, broccoli, carrot, tomato, beet, shiitake mushroom, sea buckthorn juice powder, beet juice powder, hydrilla powder, horsetail herb powder, moringa leaf powder, mesquite powder, fulvic minerals, pomegranate seed powder)|
|Calcium sulfate||L-cysteine hydrochloride|
|Yeast extract||Onion powder|
|Potassium bicarbonate||Onion extract|
|Potassium chloride||Paprika extract|
|Tapioca starch||Garlic extract|
Yikes, that's a lot of ingredients!
The Beyond Burger
Since supplanting the Beast Burger in 2016, the Beyond Burger has become the most famous meat substitute in the Beyond Meat lineup. In fact, you might say it's taken the fake meat world by storm.
Like Beyond Beef, the Beyond Burger includes apple extract to recreate the pinkness of real beef and the browning that occurs once cooked.
And, in addition to coconut oil, the latest iteration of the Beyond Burger includes cocoa butter, which adds a savory flavor more reminiscent of real burgers.
And the texture? Like Beyond Beef, the Beyond Burger is a real eye-opener to meat lovers but tends to put off hard-core vegetarians and vegans.
When it comes to ingredients, what you'll find in the Beyond Burger is definitely a step up from its predecessor the Beast Burger, but this veggie burger is still a highly processed food, as you can see:
|Pea protein isolate||Sunflower oil|
|Expeller-pressed canola oil||Vegetable glycerin|
|Coconut oil||Dried yeast|
|Cocoa butter||Gum arabic|
|Apple extract||Citrus extract|
|Bamboo cellulose||Ascorbic acid|
|Methylcellulose||Beet juice extract|
|Potato starch||Acetic acid|
|Natural flavor||Succinic acid|
|Maltodextrin||Modified food starch|
Interestingly, while the Beyond Burger contains different ingredients, it shares the same nutritional profile as its cousin, Beyond Beef.
Released in 2017, Beyond Sausage is definitely the baby in the Beyond Meat family of products. Available in two varieties—bratwurst and spicy Italian—Beyond Sausage, like other Beyond Meat products, has both fans and detractors.
However, unlike Beyond Beef and the Beyond Burger—but definitely reminiscent of Beyond Chicken—this latest in the Beyond Meat line appears to appeal more to non-meat eaters, who overwhelming find it a near perfect substitute for real meat.
Although the sausages sizzle and char like other Beyond Meat offerings, meat lovers find the texture less meaty and more mealy and the flavor somewhat lacking in spice. What's more, the casing, which is made of calcium alginate, doesn't offer the same "pop" meat eaters enjoy with regular sausage.
However, meat lovers tend to find that, when it comes to plant-based alternatives, Beyond Sausage is definitely a cut above—and in this vegetarians, vegans, and meat eaters all appear to agree.
The ingredients you'll find in Beyond Sausage are:
|Water||Pea protein isolate|
|Refined coconut oil||Sunflower oil|
|Natural flavor||Rice protein|
|Fava bean protein||Potato starch|
|Apple fiber||Citrus extract|
As far as nutrition facts, what you'll find with Beyond Sausage is a bit different than both Beyond Beef and the Beyond Burger:
- 190 calories
- 12 grams of fat
- 5 grams of saturated fat
- 0 grams of cholesterol
- 3 grams of fiber
- 500 milligrams of sodium
- 16 grams of protein
- 5 grams of carbs
- 6% of the RDA of calcium
- 22% of the RDA of iron
Beyond ... Bacon?
Rumor has it that Beyond Meat is currently working on a vegan alternative to bacon as well. However, though the company has admitted it is indeed developing a plant-based alternative to regular bacon, it doesn't currently have a launch date.
But whether you're a meat lover, vegetarian, or vegan, Beyond Meat probably offers at least one product you can sink your teeth into. However, it's important to remember that this is not health food.
As any cursory glance at the ingredient lists can tell you, Beyond Meat puts out some highly processed products, so we wouldn't advise eating them 3 times a day every day—but then we wouldn't advise doing the same thing with beef either.
However, unlike real meat, Beyond Meat products contain less saturated fat and zero cholesterol—plus comparable levels of protein—so they can provide you with a potentially healthier alternative when you're craving meat.
Plus, when you sit down to your plant-based meal, you can take comfort knowing you're doing your part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions—and you might even have saved a four-legged life too.