Beyond Meat, who are best known for their famous ‘bleeding’ plant-based burger, have now set their sights on creating a satisfying plant-based sausage that mimics the taste and texture of a pork sausage.
Beyond Meat is part of a growing trend of start-ups that are attempting to make meat without animals to answer concerns about animal welfare, the environment, and health.
While plant-based alternatives have been around for decades, a cohort of this new generation of companies—including Beyond Meat—is using food tech to get plants to more closely replicate the taste and texture of animal protein.
After creating a realistic plant-based patty that even appears to ‘bleed’ thanks to the beetroot juice used in the recipe, Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown says the company has set their sights on creating a pork sausage next to give consumers who have health concerns about processed meat a tasty alternative.
To attract non-vegans and –vegetarians, Beyond Meat’s burger product is sold in the meat case of mainstream supermarkets like Kroger. “We try to create products for people who eat meat,” explains Brown.
He says that one of the biggest challenges in creating a plant-based sausage was its varied bite. A sausage isn’t homogenous, Brown explained to media outlet Fortune, since it’s made up of the different parts of muscle and animal fat.
To recreate a realistic sausage texture that will appeal to meat-eaters, the R&D team used a mixture of peas, fava beans, and rice, as well as beet, paprika, and coconut oil in the recipe.
Another challenge the team faced was how to replicate a sausage’s casing, which is usually made of animal intestine and naturally folds back on itself to give sausages their curved shape. It’s also semi-permeable, allowing some, but not all, of the fat to be released when cooking.
As a solution, the Beyond Meat team decided to use alginate, a substance contained in algae. Brown says it’s decent but not perfect yet. To recreate the sausage’s curve, the company is going to sell the product in molded trays.
Beyond Meat will serve the sausage in three flavors: bratwurst, sweet Italian, and hot Italian. The product has no cholesterol and has 43% less total fat, 38% less saturated fat, and 26% less sodium than the animal-based equivalent.
For now, the only way to try the “modern miracle of meatiness” is stop by the Whole Foods Market Pearl Street store in Boulder, Colorado where the sausage is available on the menu at the in-store Beyond Burger bar restaurant. The next steps for rollout and distribution will be announced in January.