Pioneering company Beyond Meat just unveiled its new Beyond IV platform.

Beyond Meat debuted its “bleeding” Beyond Burger in 2016 with the mission of providing consumers with an easy swap for traditional beef. Back then, the Beyond Burger stood as a solution to the ethical and environmental concerns around animal agriculture, which were just beginning to surface in public discourse. The vegan burger wasn’t nutritionally equivalent to eating a salad, but that was never the point. 

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Not long after its debut, the Beyond Burger became a common fixture on retail shelves and restaurant menus—from Carl’s Jr. to Ruby Tuesdays and beyond. The company even signed a three-year deal with McDonald’s to develop meat-free products under the McPlant platform, a venture that proved more successful in several markets overseas.

At home, Beyond Meat’s success—highlighted by its high-flying IPO in 2019—made it a target for the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), a nonprofit that advocates for the traditional meat industry. 

The critique the CCF was forming against the plant-based meat industry at large had to do with its ingredient list. At the height of plant-based meat’s popularity in 2020—when category sales spiked 148 percent—the CCF took out ads in The New York Times and the Super Bowl with the intent to stir doubt about whether eating plant-based meat was healthy. 

Four years later, plant-based meat isn’t as popular as it used to be, and in no small part due to a shift in public perspective skewed by meat-industry-backed campaigns like these. In 2024, post-pandemic America is also more concerned with health and longevity, with interest in whole-foods plant-based diets growing as research about Blue Zones continues to emerge. 

How can a company like Beyond Meat survive these challenges? Through relentless innovation of its plant-based products, the fourth iteration of which features improved nutritional profiles.    

“Health is one of the top drivers to the plant-based meat category, and we feel a deep responsibility to deliver on that expectation for the consumer,” Shira Zackai, Chief Communications Officer at Beyond Meat, tells VegNews.

“While we are proud of our products previously available in the market, we saw an opportunity to make them even stronger from a health perspective,” she said. 

Beyond Meat slashes sodium

Beyond Meat’s new Beyond IV platform introduces nutritional improvements to its flagship Beyond Burger and Beyond Beef. For one, the company added nutrient-dense ingredients such as red lentils and fava bean protein, increasing protein content to 21 grams per serving. 

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Beyond Meat also replaced coconut and canola oils from previous iterations with avocado oil, which plays a crucial role in this new formulation. 

“Beloved by the health community for its strong nutritional profile, including being high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, avocado oil also has multiple culinary benefits,” Zackai says. 

“It has a smoother, more neutral flavor than other popular vegetable oils and the interplay of the proteins with the avocado oil allowed us to deliver our meatiest product yet while significantly advancing the nutritional benefits,” she says. 

Beyond Meat’s shift to avocado oil also allowed for a 60-percent reduction—compared to the previous Beyond Beef iteration—in saturated fat to just 2 grams per serving. The move also slashed the sodium content of its plant-based beef products by 20 percent. 

Heart-healthy vegan meat

To develop Beyond IV, the company collaborated closely with leading scientists, doctors, and registered dietitians. The new formulation was also influenced by cutting-edge research from the Plant-Based Diet Initiative at Stanford Medicine.

“As part of Beyond Meat’s rapid and relentless approach to innovation, we’re always working to advance the taste and nutrition of our products,” Zackai states. 

Moreover, Beyond Meat worked closely with the nutrition team at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to open the first-ever plant-based meat category for their Better Choices for Life program. 

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“Beyond Steak and the new Beyond Burger IV and Beyond Beef IV are the first plant-based meat products to meet the nutritional guidelines of ADA’s Better Choices for Life program,” Zackai notes. 

The American Heart Association (AHA) has also supported the health-focused evolution of Beyond Meat’s product portfolio and has worked with the company to develop heart-healthy recipes using its new Beyond Burger and Beyond Beef iterations. 

Scientific research continues to link animal meat consumption to illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. On the flip side, Beyond Meat is working with the American Cancer Society on a three-year research program to uncover the health benefits of its plant-based meats and has received an endorsement from the American Diabetes Association.  

The company is planning a full marketing campaign for its Beyond IV products to emphasize their robust health benefits.

“We are excited to unveil these changes to consumers, and are confident they are going to love the enhanced taste and nutritional profile of the new burger and beef,” Zackai says.

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