Or maybe not. Maybe the clever food packaging looked just like another “fake meat” product to your discerned eye.
If only that were the case, honey.
Started in 2009 by Ethan Brown—an aspiring climate change problem solver, animal befriender, and the son of a small Missouri dairy farmer—Beyond Meat is a chicken-less meat substitute that experts and foodies are calling the closest thing to real chicken that’s been introduced to grocery shelves yet. This less-than-subtle claim even coming from the mouth of the food industry’s Albert Einstein, best-selling author, and acclaimed chef, Alton Brown.
The question is: what makes this faux chicken any different from the Tofurky that’s sat in our meat-free fridges for the past three decades?
For one, it’s the fact that Beyond Meat is looking to venture beyond a vegetarian’s shopping list to compete in the multi-billion-dollar meat industry with a plant-based meat.
But, really, it’s all in the texture.
Made from a concoction of GMO-free soybean and pea isolates, fiber, and a dab of titanium dioxide to give the end product its hue and grilled-like appeal, Beyond Meat’s pre-packaged “chicken” looks, feels, and tears like the feathered creature that Americans remarkably consume 96 pounds of per person every year. We’re not talking your everyday tofu here.
The trick chicken’s unique texture is the product of years of collaboration between its founder and food scientists from the University of Missouri, Fu-hung Hsieh and Harold Huff, who were already setting out to create a meatless product that had a similar taste and texture as chicken. An investment gamble and big check from Twitter founder and not-so-shy vegan, Biz Stone, didn’t hurt either.
Today, it’s a cutting-edge and innovative chicken alternative—with a “beef” substitute currently in development—that has set out to make a more realistic dent on the food predicament brought on by a growing global population and an unsustainable factory farm system. (We butcher more than 10 billion animals per year in America with the human race on track to consume 400 million tons of meat by 2030.) Better yet, it achieves this phenomenon with healthier and as few ingredients as possible.
Haven’t tried it yet? Find Beyond Meat at your local Whole Foods or neighborhood grocer in three flavors: Lightly Seasoned, Grilled, and Southwest. Go to Beyondmeat.com/stores for the closet grocer in your area.
And just for the heck of it: here’s a recipe from the folks behind the chicken.
VEGAN BUFFALO CHICKEN WRAP
- 9 oz. Beyond Meat Lightly Seasoned Chicken-free strips
- 1 cup vegan cayenne wing sauce
- 6 leaves of green leaf lettuce
- 1 cup shredded carrots, celery or cabbage
- 1 red onion, sliced thin
- 3 large tortillas
- 3 Tbsp. vegan mayonnaise
- 6 sprigs cilantro
- Toss Beyond Meat strips in cayenne sauce, set aside
- On each tortilla, spread 1 Tbsp. of vegan mayo
- Lay 2 slices of lettuce on each tortilla
- Top with a few slices of red onion and cilantro leaves
- Place 5 beyond meat strips on the tortilla
- Cover with 1/3 cup of shredded carrots, celery or cabbage
- Roll up tortilla
For more recipes and nutrition information, visit Beyondmeat.com.