What Meat-Lovers Think of Plant-Based Beyond Sausage
In a probably no-so-distant future, meat as we know it will be far too hard to attain for everyday purchase. We’ll be munching on handfuls of crickets and frying up sausages beefed up with plant protein. At least, this is the future the Extra Crispy team imagined as we tried Beyond Sausage, the newest plant-based offering from Beyond Meat. Beyond Sausage was launched last year, but the company announced just last week that the vegan sausage would now be available nationwide in US Whole Foods grocery stores.
“Our mission is to create mass-market solutions that perfectly replace animal protein with plant protein,” reads the Beyond Meat website. “We are dedicated to improving human health, positively impacting climate change, conserving natural resources and respecting animal welfare.”
Like the Beyond Burger, Beyond Sausage is made from plant-based ingredients (a mixture of vegetables, and legumes, and oils) but is intended to emulate meat in every other way, from taste to cooking reaction—in the case of this offering, Beyond promises that their sausage “looks, sizzles, and satisfies like pork.”
Beyond launched three sausage flavors: “Brat Original,” “Sweet Italian,” and “Hot Italian.” Each of the sausages is a blend of peas, rice, fava beans, potatoes, beets, and coconut oil, with a casing made from calcium alginate (a seaweed-based substance often used as a wound dressing).
After opening the packages of sausage, we found their look to be pretty similar to pork sausage, albeit with less fat marbling than you’d typically find in meat. We threw them in a hot nonstick pan, and that’s when the fun really started. The sausages charred well, and indeed sizzled just like pork sausage, rendering a fatty substance that we assumed to be the coconut oil in the mixture.
I’ll give you the bad news first: Like all other vegetarian meats I’ve eaten, Beyond Sausage did not really taste like pork. The texture was a bit mealy (something I’ve noted is the case in most meatless sausage), and the casing didn’t give way with the satisfying snap of a meaty sausage. We found the Braut Original to be pretty bland, though they all could have used a bit more seasoning. However, Associate Editor Kate Welsh did note that she appreciated the “whisper of fennel” present in the Sweet Italian sausage. We found our favorite of the bunch to be the Hot Italian flavor, which had a more robust flavor profile and a good level of heat—though we all admitted we wanted it spicier.
After Senior Culture Editor Margaret Eby noted that she typically buys hot Italian sausage for the purpose of crumbling the meat, we tested that as well and were pleasantly surprised: the crumbles browned well and were satisfyingly crispy. This also helped with the previously noted texture issues.
Ultimately, we were impressed with Beyond Sausage. The consensus was that compared to other vegetarian and vegan sausages we’ve tried, this was in the top tier. As meat-eaters, we weren’t ready to declare it equal to or greater than pork sausage, but, as we finished off the Hot Italian, we agreed that if we were in the mood for meatless sausage, we’d absolutely fry up one of the Beyond links again.