What Is Beyond Meat and How Do You Cook It?

updated Jan 21, 2020
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Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Beyond Meat is a plant-based meat substitute that looks and tastes an awful lot like real ground beef. It’s currently sold in pre-formed burger patties, in one-pound packages similar to ground beef, and in seasoned “crumbles” for either spaghetti or tacos.

Beyond Burgers have become one of the two leading go-to vegan burgers nationwide in restaurants (the other is Impossible Burger), and the packaged products are increasingly available not just in health food stores, but in large grocery stores as well. The Beyond company also makes sausages.

Is Beyond Meat and the Beyond Meat burger delicious and worth trying?

Yes! Beyond Meat is a super approachable product for anyone who already knows how to cook with meat. The packaged product looks and acts a lot like ground beef, with a slightly fatty mouthfeel that mimics the fat in a real burger (in the best way). On the plate, the burgers are juicy and aromatic, with good texture. Nutritionally, because it’s made with a variety of plant proteins, Beyond Meat has as much or more nutrition (and less saturated fat) than real meat, depending on the product.

Who makes Beyond Meat? 

Beyond Meat is produced by one company, also called Beyond Meat, which was founded in 2009. 

How did Beyond Meat get started?

Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown founded the company to help reduce beef consumption. Brown’s stated concerns are not only about the health effects of eating red meat, but also sustainability and energy concerns. In a study the company commissioned with the University of Michigan, they found that producing one Beyond Meat burger produced 90% less greenhouse-gas emissions, and used 93% less land, than a burger made of beef.

Beyond Meat’s stated mission is to address four major global issues: climate change, constraints on natural resources, health problems associated with eating too much red meat, and animal welfare.

How is Beyond Meat different from other meat substitutes?

While some alternative meats — such as tofu or seitan — can replace ground meat in a dish, most do not actually taste like meat, Beyond Meat does a pretty convincing job of mimicking meat flavor and texture, all with plants. (They even use beet juice to give the product a red, meaty look.)

Beyond Meat is similar to Impossible meat, with two major differences: First, beyond is made from a blend of different plant-based proteins, including pea, mung bean, and brown rice. Second, Beyond is able to claim that their product is “non-GMO” or not made from genetically-modified foods. Finally, Beyond Meat is made without soy or gluten, making it more allergen-friendly. Historically both soy and gluten have been cornerstones of alternative meat products.

Is Beyond Meat healthy?

Compared to ground beef, Beyond Meat has more iron and more protein, less total fat and less saturated fat. It contains no cholesterol and no artificially produced ingredients. Depending on your own definition of healthy, yes, Beyond Meat can be a very nutritious part of your diet.

Where can I buy Beyond Meat? 

Look for Beyond Meat products either in the refrigerated section of most large grocery stores (either in the meat section, or near the other meat substitutes), or in the freezer section. (Frozen versions need to be fully thawed before cooking.) 

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

How do I cook Beyond Meat at home?

First, decide which product you want to try — maybe the burgers, or the ground “beef.” Then cook it like meat, only usually with no oil in the pan. Unlike ground beef, all Beyond Meat products come with cooking instructions on the package. You can stir the cooked ground beef into sauces (think Bolognese!), fold it into enchiladas, stuff it into vegetables, or use it in tacos. Sear or grill the sausages straight up, or roast them on a sheet pan the same way you would regular pork links.

In other words, do whatever you want with it — just remember to cook it first, seasoning it as you would regular beef, then add it to dishes toward the end of cooking, because the flavor changes if it’s simmered for a long time.

Note that like regular beef and pork, Beyond Meat needs to be cooked before eating and also has an expiration date, so if you’re not going to use it right away, purchasing and storing it frozen is a great idea. Once the packaged is opened, it should be used within three days.

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

The Best First Recipe to Try with Beyond Beef

Have you ever cooked with Beyond Beef? What’s your favorite way to prepare it? Tell us in the comments!