Beyond Meat certainly aims to be different—extremely. Products include: The Beyond Burger, Beyond Sausage, Beast Burger, Beyond Strips, Beyond Beef Crumble.
The company was founded by CEO Ethan Brown in 2009 as a plant-based protein alternative to answer what he felt were growing challenges in the meat business, ranging from changing consumer tastes and nutrition preferences to supply and production issues. Its signature “Beyond Burger” launched a few years later.
The key for Beyond, was the exhaustiveness of its product development. As many incumbent veggie burgers relied on ingredients like quinoa and black beans to “kinda sorta” simulate a real burger experience, Beyond went much further.
For starters, the Beyond team repeatedly placed a number of traditional hamburgers into an MRI machine to micro-analyze the assemblage of proteins and fats. (I hope those poor burgers weren’t claustrophobic.)
Then, by scientifically arranging plant-based elements to mimic the structures the MRI showed, the team was magically able to create a product that essentially replicated a hamburger’s sensory aspects.
What happened? Sizzle—figuratively and literally. Now real meat lovers could experience plant-based burgers that would perform on the grill like hamburgers, an important ritual. The Beyond product also retained the moisture, char, and chew of a hamburger, and can even emit a hamburger’s aroma. All with zero cholesterol.
While the widely-held perception is that consumers are converting to new vegan/vegetarian diets in droves, Goldman said that the percentage is still only around 5%. He and the team are banking on moving that number beyond.
The early results suggest there’s a chance. Since its debut, the company says, Beyond already has sold more than 11 million burgers, and today is available in over 25,000 grocery stores and restaurants nationally.
Future product research and development will be run out of a gleaming new facility they recently built in Southern California that they say is considerably larger and more sophisticated than their prior one, so expect more innovation to come. Their new Beyond Sausage product is one example.
Some quick facts about Beyond Meat, they use pea protein as the basis for their burgers and have celebrity backers like Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCaprio. Their company wants stores to stock their burgers in the meat aisle, which is not without controversy.
Beyond Meat burgers probably won’t fool any die-hard carnivores (they don’t “bleed” like Impossible burgers), but if you don’t have to have beef, this is an excellent substitute. When we sampled them, we found Beyond Meat burgers flavorful and light, with a pleasing texture that was beef-like.
Which is good, because Beyond Meat burgers are not cheap. It was $6.49 for just two patties. Despite Beyond Meat’s marketing demands, their burgers were located in the meat alternative section in the freezer aisle, instead of in between the ground beef and sausage links.
Frozen, they look just like thick beef patties. As they cook, they don’t brown very much, staying pretty rose-colored.
Once cooked, we covered the burger with Daiya vegan cheese and slid it on to a bun. Beyond Meat definitely has that umami flavor. The burger felt light and delicate — without being fragile — but it also had this elasticity to it. This gave it more of a meat texture, though it didn’t feel as dense or heavy as beef.
The biggest sensation we got from our experience eating a Beyond Meat burger was excitement. We loved every bite. And we can’t wait to make another one. Thoough we’d like the price to come down a bit, if only to entice more people to try it, but we’re sure that will come.
Let us know, have you tried Beyond Meat or even the Impossible burger? Will this new invention able to truly replace meat in the future? Share with us your thoughts!