About a month ago, on the 11th of December 2019, I woke up to the news that Beyond Meat is finally launching its “Beyond Beef” in Canada. I am not a big fan of processed, pre-packaged foods, but I did try Beyond Meat Burgers previously on several occasions and was quite impressed by their taste and quality. Also, after making a bit of a research, I found out that the STORY, the MISSION and the SUCCESS of this company goes way “beyond” the common processed foods manufacturers. So, I thought to myself, that I just have to try their new Beyond Beef and give my comprehensive review.
But before, if you find yourself among those, who think right now: “what the hell is this Beyond Meat and why does it worth my attention?”, the following few paragraphs with company overview are for you.
The two most impressive facts about Beyond Meat to me are its ability to attract such investors as Bill Gates, Leonardo DiCaprio and the Obvious Corporation (headed by the 2 Twitter co-founders), and their remarkable B2B relations with such market leaders as McDonalds, KFC, Dunkin’, Tesco, A&W, Tim Hortons and numerous small restaurant and café owners. Frankly speaking, living in Canada (one of the few countries where Beyond Meat is represented right now), it is hard not to know what Beyond Meat is… Nevertheless, no judging if you don’t know. I was also not as much aware before this research J
Beyond Meat is a US-based company, created by Ethan Brown in 2009. Before starting a plant-based meat alternative company, Brown worked in the energy section developing proton-exchange membrane fuel cells, which as I understand, is basically alternative energy sourcing development (please do not quote me on that). Being a vegan himself, and the one that is concerned with the global climate crisis, Brown had stumbled upon a USDA-backed research from two University of Missouri professors that reset the protein from plants to take on the muscular form of meat. Soon after, Beyond Meat was created.
What is important here, is that the company does not get tired of investing in research and development. Beyond Meat constantly tries to improve even their existing products, striving to achieve an absolutely non-recognizable resemblance with animal-sourced meat. Company’s mission is to provide healthier and more eco-friendly meat alternatives to people, without having to sacrifice that common meat taste. Ethan Brown believes, and I have to agree with him, that telling people “not to eat what they love and instead eat more vegetables”, like the vast majority of eco-activists and honest dieticians do, could not be commercially successful. And if a product is not commercially successful, it cannot reach bigger audience, and make any real shift in consumer behaviour.
In September 2018, Beyond Meat had received an Environment Champion of the Earth award from the United Nations, after the University of Michigan’s study had revealed that the production of Beyond Meat burger produces 90% fewer greenhouse-gas emissions, uses 93% less land and 99% less water than the production of a beef burger from livestock.
Those figures are incredible, no doubt. Beyond Meat had definitely proved to be a BETTER OPTION FOR OUR ENVIRONMENT that could potentially SLOW DOWN CLIMATE CHANGE, once widely adopted. But what about our health? Surely, a laboratory-developed food could not be good for our body, could it?
To be able to answer this important question, let’s first clarify that Beyond Meat is NON-GMO! It had received a Non-GMO verification from the non-GMO project in 2018 after a year of review.
Secondly, let’s compare Beyond Beef’s nutritional component to a typical 90% lean ground beef one. The energy weight of both products is approximately the same, around 250 calories per 4 oz. Same as the protein component: both products contain about 20-22% of protein, so please don’t even start with the “protein deficiency” talk. The most important nutritional success of the Beyond Beef over ordinary meat is that it CONTAINS NO CHOLESTEROL, in comparison to 25% found in the ordinary lean beef. *Cholesterol increases the risk of heart diseases substantially* It even contains more iron (25%) and calcium (8%) than the animal-sourced beef (iron – 15%; calcium – 0%). On the downside, however, Beyond Beef is fattier (however, some may claim that fats could be good), much higher in sodium (16% in comparison to 3%) and contains none of the minor vitamins, such as B12 and Zinc, that the animal meat does.
Enough with the nutrition! What about the PRICE? What frustrates all the seekers of the plant-based alternatives, nowadays, is the price! You try to be more eco-conscious, you try to live a healthier lifestyle, but sometimes it just gets you… especially at the restaurants, where it is quite common, that vegan burgers would cost a few dollars more than their meat brothers. But why? Does it make sense?
Well, first of all, one needs to understand a difference between a sustainably sourced, grass-fed beef and mass-produced, heavily subsidies and full of hormones and additives beef. The later one would, of course, be way cheaper. However, if we are talking about the primary one, its cost may well be just equivalent to the Beyond Meat’s price of about CAD 9-12 per Lb, depending on your meat provider. In my, humble and purely subjective opinion, consumption of meat is not vital for human survival, nowadays. One can obtain the same nutritional benefits from plant sources (apart from Beyond Meat products). At the same time meat production is detrimental to our environment and puts under a huge risk our survival as the humanity on this planet. Therefore, consumption of meat products solely for the satisfaction of personal taste buds, is not wise to be done on daily basis. Thus, one can afford to pay a premium for something they do not consume every day and enjoy more like a special treat. And I am not alone here, as it seems. Despite Beyond Meat’s higher pricing point, its continuous successful launches with A&W, KFC and other major brands prove that customers are willing to pay a small premium for Beyond Meat products, and chose plant-base. Its present success on the NASDAQ also proves the overall consumer positive view of the future of Beyond Meat’s vision. Beyond Meat launched on NASDAQ in mid 2019 and showed to be one of the most well-performed players during the past year. As of today (2nd Jan 2020), BYND stock price is placed at USD 75.65, just between other well-known and established companies, like Intel (USD 60.93) and Starbucks (USD 89.35).
Finally, let’s talk the actual product review. How did it taste? JUST LIKE REAL MEAT or not?
From the 1st look, Beyond Beef, looks exactly like normal finely ground beef, same colour and even some small white balls appear, closely resembling the fat particles in animal ground beef. 2nd comes the smell. Once you have worked a few times already with the Beyond Meat products, you can identify its distinctive umami smell. It does not smell like animal raw meat, more like a cooked version of it, certainly more pleasant/tastier and more mouth-watering. 3rd is the texture. I have to say, that it really depends on your cooking method, but in my case, texture of the raw Beyond Beef was the most disliked aspect by me. I’ve decided to put Beyond Beef though an ULTIMATE TEST of cooking Russian Pelmeni with it. And its moist, sticky texture proved to be very challenging to work with. I have to say, though, it can be done, and after 10th Pelmen, you get a hold of it J The cooking process and timing of the Beyond Beef-filled Permini was about the same as the traditional version – around 10 min.
Finally, taste! Of course, I can tell it’s not beef. BUT it is definitely MEATY, real meaty! I’d say that the resembles is about 8 out of 10, and some can even say that it is meat indeed, just maybe not beef or pork, but a different type, that our common taste buds could not so easily recognize.
To sum up, this was not a simple product review, and thank you for keeping on reading it this far! I truly appreciate your time!
To me a product review is not just “See, Smell, Touch, Taste”, it’s more than that, its product mission, its nutrition, marketing, B2B and customer relations, and more. In case, of Beyond Meat, I have to say, that this company fascinates me. They seem to be on the right path on each point: great tasting product; acceptable price point; impressive nutritional benefits; beyond many on their sustainability path; impressive promotion efforts with the big brands and global distribution… Having all these points in mind, my product review of the Beyond Beef is definitely an overall positive one. However, I have to add that no one claims Beyond Meat to be an ultimate healthy alternative of the animal meat. It is MERELY HEALTHIER and there is a big difference! Therefore, I personally, would stick to it being a special occasion treat for me and my family, like the animal meat should be for many, and not a daily food source.