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Beyond Meat: A meat (substitute) for the masses?

Will Beyond Meat's new chicken substitute finally satisfy both vegetarians and carnivores?

The chewy meat substitutes your hippie parents forced you to eat are long gone, especially now that Maryland-based company Beyond Meat will be debuting their new chicken substitute in Bay Area Whole Foods stores next month. According to preliminary taste reports, you won’t be sneaking this chicken-like food to Fido under the table.

NPR’s blog The Salt recently covered the new company—and since then vegetarians and vegans have been lighting up the Web anticipating the release of the new product. Why the enthusiasm?

Through a new process licensed from the University of Missouri, the product includes ingredients like non-GMO soy and pea powder, carrot fiber and gluten-free flour, according to NPR. Beyond Meat reportedly mimics real chicken in taste and texture. And, here’s the kicker, it shreds wonderfully—pulled (fake) chicken sandwich, anyone?

Meat substitutes are notoriously tricky ingredients to work with. While tofu tastes exceptional when cooked correctly, many are offended by the fermented soy product due to past rubbery preparations. Seitan is meatier in flavor, but is comprised of wheat gluten—a no-no for those with celiac disease.

Some vegetarians swear by Quorn, made from the mushroom-like mycoprotein. While Quorn has a texture closer to that of real meat, it also has an impressive nutritional profile: 11 grams of protein for a mere 80 calories. But mycoprotein has been under fire in past years. In 2011, the Center for Science in the Public Interest wrote a letter to the FDA calling for Quorn’s removal after receiving 65 complaints of consumers experiencing severe allergic reactions such as hives and anaphylactic shock and vomiting; oh my!

So will Beyond Meat be the answer to satisfying both carnivores and vegetarians at the dinner table? My coworkers and I wait with bated breath to sample this intriging new product.

And considering that Beyond Meat uses significantly less resources (such as water and feed) to produce than real meat, it’s sure to appeal to environmentalists as well.

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