Is beyond meat really vegan?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Is beyond meat really vegan?” and will discuss the meatless substitutes that are vegan.

Is beyond meat really vegan?

Yes, beyond meat is really vegan. Beyond meat is only made from the proteins that are solely obtained from plants with no trace of animal products in them that’s why it is hundred percent vegan.

The Union Bank of Switzerland projects the plant-based-protein or alternative-meat market to reach US$85 billion by 2030 at an impressive estimated compound annual growth rate of 27.5% (2).

What is meatless meat?

In other words, it’s meat that doesn’t have any meat in it. It was created primarily to provide vegans with the meaty taste and texture they are missing from their diets. There aren’t many choices for vegans when it comes to fast food or junk food. If you want a cheat day treat, you may have some crispy fries or roast vegetables if you’re a vegan.

But all of that is in the past now, of course. Science has advanced to the point that vegetarians may now purchase animal substitutes. All of the ingredients in this meat are derived from plants or soy protein. This kind of meat is made without the usage of any animals or animal products. Even though meatless meat is devoid of any animal products, it has been crafted to resemble genuine meat in terms of softness and texture.

Plant- and fungi-based meat products encompass the flavor, texture, and/or nutritional aspects of meat but are different in composition; namely are made from non-animal sourced materials. Based on the time of development and technical complexity, plant based meat products can be differentiated into two flexible categories: traditional and novel (i.e., next-generation). Traditional meat analogs were developed thousands of years ago in Asia and include relatively simple derivatives from soybeans (i.e., tofu, tempeh) or wheat. In contrast, novel plant based meats are characterized by the design and marketing of products as near equivalent replacements for animal based meats with regard to taste, texture, and nutrition (1).

Typically, the production of plant based meat includes three steps: (i) Protein isolation and functionalization—Target plant proteins are extracted from plants, some of which are subjected to hydrolysis in order to improve their functionalities such as solubility and cross-linking capacity; (ii) Formulation—The plant proteins are mixed with ingredients to develop meat texture such as food adhesives, plant-based fat and flour. Nutrients are added to match or exceed the nutrient profile of the meat. (iii) Processing—The mixture of plant proteins and other ingredients undergo protein reshaping processes (e.g., stretching, kneading, trimming, pressing, folding, extrusion, etc.) to form a meat-like texture. Innovative technologies being utilized to improve the organoleptic properties of plant based meats include shear cell technology, mycelium cultivation, 3D printing, and recombinant protein additives (1).

 Meatless meat substitutes

Meatless meat substitutes come in two varieties, both of which are excellent choices for vegans. 

After growing tremendously between 2017 and 2019, the US plant-based meat alternatives category was worth US$939 million in 2019, accounting for 2% of all dollar sales of retail packaged meat and around 1% of total dollar sales of all retail meat sales (2).

Impossible burgers

It’s a plant-based burger that offers vegans a meaty taste without being a meat alternative to traditional beef patties. Investigating the Impossible Burger’s components reveals that no animals or animal-derived items are used in its production.

 Potato protein and soy protein are the main components of the Impossible Burger. As a result, these components are cooked in a manner that makes them look and taste like beef. People are likely to think that the Impossible Burger is made of real meat since it looks so similar to a standard hamburger. That isn’t the case, however. Patties made with Impossible Burger ingredients have a pink center, which gives them more taste and makes them easy to find in grocery stores and restaurants.

Impossible Foods, secured funding of US$1.2 billion after closing series F funding of US$500 million in March 2020. Based on the distribution channel, the plant-based meat alternatives market can be classified into B2C (grocery stores, online retail, supermarkets, and food and drinks specialty stores) and B2B (hotels and restaurants). Interestingly, Impossible Foods gained more visibility and recognition by exploiting social media and celebrity chefs to drive attention and hence chose a B2B model [i.e., partnerships (e.g., Burger King)]. Only after obtaining FDA approval for the key ingredient ‘heme’ Impossible Foods debuted in retail stores (2).

The beyond meat

Beyond Meat has established a name for itself in the vegan community by offering plant-based burger patties that are suitable for vegans. There are several similarities between the Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger components.

Color is imparted by the primary component that distinguishes one meatless meat burger patties from another. To give the burger patties a meaty red color, the Impossible Burger utilizes soy leghemoglobin, while Beyond Meat uses beans.

 By tasting the Beyond Meat burger, we can see that the vegetable component is dominant, which gives vegans peace of mind regarding the patty’s plant-based origins. The Beyond Meat burger patties are just as juicy and tender as the Impossible burger, with just a tiny difference in texture. They’re a great alternative to meat burgers. These patties are readily available at any grocery shop or café.

The investment in plant-based meat alternatives start-ups by business giants such as Bill Gates and major food companies like Tyson Foods (USA) and Cargill (USA) has galvanized attention from other investors. Tyson Foods invested in Beyond Meat in 2016, and it received funds of more than US$200 million over the next 2 years. Beyond Meat filed an initial public offering in 2019, which valued the company at US$1.5 billion. Beyond Meat first released its products in grocery stores (B2C) and reached more people directly through supermarkets. It has started to appear on menu cards at fast food joints like Carl’s Jr., Del Taco, Subway, etc. This highlights the adoption of both B2B and B2C to maximize aggregate sales of plant-based meat alternative products (2).

Beyond meat Products

Chicken strips

The company’s initial product produced in 2012 was supposed to imitate chicken and marketed frozen. The product was licensed by Harold Huff and Fu-Hung Hsieh at the University of Missouri.

They were made from “soy powder, gluten-free flour, carrot fiber, and other ingredients” which were mixed and fed into a food extrusion machine that cooks the mixture while forcing it through a specially designed mechanism that uses steam, pressure, and cold water to form the product’s chicken-like texture. Although acclaimed by several celebrities, journalists who sampled it felt the “likeness to actual chicken was passable, at most”, and the chicken product was withdrawn in 2019.

Beyond Burger

The firm revealed in 2014 that it has started development on a new product replicating a beef burger, which was introduced in February 2015.

Ingredients: The burgers are manufactured from pea protein isolates, rice protein, mung bean protein, canola oil, coconut oil, potato starch, apple extract, sunflower lecithin, and pomegranate powder.

Beef products that “bleed” are created by employing red beet juice. The items are certified as not having genetically modified components. The number of ingredients and procedures required in creating the items imply they are categorized as ultra-processed foods in the NOVA food categorization system.

One burger patty contains 1,100 kilojoules (270 kilocalories) of dietary energy, twenty grams of protein, twenty grams of fat (of which five grams is saturated fat), and one gram of salt. Similar to beef patties in terms of protein and fat, the salt level is “far greater.” Depending on the chain of restaurants where the burger is served, the burger’s nutritional content varies.

Beyond sausages

“Beyond Sausage” was launched in December 2017 as a vegan sausage substitute. Bratwurst, Hot Italian, and Sweet Italian sausages were the three types of “sausage” on the menu.

Is beyond meat® healthier than beef?

Beyond Meat’s plant-based products were used in a recent clinical trial, the results of which were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. According to a Stanford University study, participants who switched from animal to plant-based meat had better cholesterol (including LDL) and heart disease risk factors (including TMAO levels) and were lighter when they did so.  The researchers measured the levels of a molecule, trimethylamine N-oxide, or TMAO, in the body; TMAO has been linked to cardiovascular disease risk. They found that TMAO levels were lower when study participants were eating plant-based meat. Two precursors to TMAO, carnitine and choline, are found in red meat and high levels of TMAO are consistent with increased inflammation and blood clotting. The researchers found that switching from animal to plant-based meat had a positive impact on these health metrics (3).

Other FAQs about Meat that you may be interested in.

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How to preserve meat

Why can’t you eat meat on Christmas eve?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Is beyond meat vegan?” and discussed the meatless substitutes that are vegan.

References

  1. Rubio, N.R., Xiang, N. & Kaplan, D.L. Plant-based and cell-based approaches to meat production. Nat Commun, 2020, 11, 6276. 
  2. Choudhury, Deepak, et al. Commercialization of plant-based meat alternatives. Trend Plant sci, 2020, 25, 1055-1058.
  3. Armitage, Hanae. Plant-based meat lowers some cardiovascular risk factors compared with red meat, study finds. Stanford Med, News Center, 2020.