Not so long ago, anyone looking to satisfy their meat craving with a plant-based substitute had to be content with alternatives made from such ingredients as soy, lentils, or beans. The results, while delicious when done right, often left meat lovers wanting something, well, more meaty.

But everything began to change in 2012, when Beyond Meat, a California-based producer of vegan meat, launched its Chicken-Free Strips, replicating the taste and texture of their animal-based counterpart. This was soon followed by the company’s signature product: a burger that “bleeds,” which won kudos from meat-eaters and set Beyond Meat on a path to becoming a market leader in the plant-based protein space.

After being initially funded by venture capitalists, Beyond Meat went public in 2019 with a hugely successful IPO, becoming the first vegan meat alternative to trade on the US stock exchange. This helped the company offer a broad range of plant-based products, including sausages, ground beef, chicken tenders, meatballs, and its ever-popular burger patties. These can now be found in more than 122,000 retail outlets in more than 80 countries.

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Getting into so many locations wasn’t easy, but Beyond Meat has two things going for it: a unique product and favorable word of mouth. These made it easier when company founder Ethan Brown refused to work with stores unless they agreed to display the brand’s products in the meat aisle, a move he regarded as crucial. “The future is one where the meat case is going to be called the protein case and consumers will be able to buy plant-based and animal-based protein side by side,” he told The Washington Post in 2016.

Here, we take a closer look at Beyond Meat’s products, environmental impact, nutritional profiles, and offer recipes, too. 

Jump to the products

Jump to the recipes

What is Beyond Meat made from?

Beyond Meat products taste so much like animal-based products that it’s hard to believe they are composed entirely of plant ingredients. Each product is different, though the main components are water, pea protein, various oils, and seasonings. In addition, the burgers contain rice protein, yeast protein, cocoa butter, methylcellulose, potato starch, apple extract, sunflower lecithin, and red beet juice, the latter of which creates the appearance of “bleeding” meat.

In explaining Beyond Meat ingredients to investors in 2019, Brown said, “When we think about meat, we define it in terms of its composition. And as it turns out, meat is, at a high level, an assembly of amino acids, lipids, trace minerals and vitamins, and water. We’ve developed a scientific and technological understanding as well as infrastructure over the past decades to assemble these core parts into the architecture of meat, drawing directly from plant-based sources.” 

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What makes Beyond Meat products so much like animal flesh is the process of putting the ingredients through an extruder machine, a giant pressure cooker that gives the plant protein a fibrous texture similar to muscle tissue. It also helps that the company infuses its products with coconut oil, which gives a mouthfeel very much like animal fat.

Is Beyond Meat healthy?

While far from being a “health food,” Beyond Meat products are good sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals. The Beyond Burger now contains B-12, for instance, an essential nutrient found in animal-based meats (and very few vegan foods). It also has 35 percent less total saturated fat than 80/20 ground beef, fewer calories, and no cholesterol—all while offering 12 grams of protein.

The biggest health concern with Beyond Meat is that it’s a processed food. But nutritionists have determined that Beyond Meat is a fairly healthy choice, provided it’s eaten in moderation. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition even found that Beyond Meat products lower some cardiovascular risk factors compared with red meat.

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Another concern is the laundry list of ingredients that Beyond Meat products contain. Methylcellulose, which Beyond Meat classifies as a plant-derived carbohydrate, is especially curious, as it apparently does not occur naturally and is synthetically produced (it is found in many other foods, such as ice cream, bread, and cake).

The increasingly crowded realm of animal-friendly proteins is constantly evolving, and Beyond Meat’s research and development team—which consists of experts with backgrounds in biomedical and cancer research, food science, and chemistry—continues to refine its products to make them healthier as well as tastier. 

Is Beyond Meat better for the planet?

The Beyond Meat website touts a 2022 life-cycle analysis showing that producing its Beyond Burgers generates 90 percent fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than regular beef. Commissioned by Beyond Meat, food and agriculture life-cycle specialists at Blonk Consultants also found that the company’s vegan patty required 37 percent less non-renewable energy, 97 percent less land use, and 97 percent less water in its production. 

But some environmental groups have criticized Beyond Meat for not publicly disclosing the amount of GHG emissions from its operations, supply chains, or consumer waste, and for not disclosing the effects of its operations on forests or how much water is used, making its planet-friendly claims difficult to verify.

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Marco Springmann, a senior environmental researcher at the University of Oxford, agrees that switching to a plant-based diet is better for the planet, and companies like Beyond Meat are tapping into an important food movement. “However, while their processed products have about half the carbon footprint that chicken does, they also have five times more of a footprint than a bean patty,” he said.

Even if Beyond Meat relies on industrial practices to create its products and does not disclose the full extent of its environmental effects, years of research has shown that plant-based meat has a lower carbon footprint than most animal products. With animal agriculture contributing 14.5 percent of the world’s GHG emissions—and the global demand for meat increasing—it’s clear that moving away from consuming animals is much kinder and more sustainable.

Beyond Meat products

The company currently offers 11 animal-friendly products that mimic the taste and texture of meat.


1 Beyond Burger

The company’s signature product, the Beyond Burger smells, sizzles, and satisfies like a beef patty, providing the experience of enjoying a burger without the cruelty.  

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2 Beyond Beef

Sliders, meat sauces, chili, enchiladas, and casseroles just got a major upgrade! Use Beyond Beef in any recipe that calls for ground beef.


3 Beyond Sausage

These chewy links are available in three flavors: Original, Hot Italian, or Sweet Italian Brats. They can be cooked on a skillet, griddle, or grill and are also perfect on pizzas or pasta.

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4 Beyond Meatballs

The brand’s meatballs are not to be missed. They are authentic-tasting and versatile, great whether they’re smothered in spaghetti sauce, fried for a sub, baked as an hors d’oeuvre, or simmered in a soup.

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5 Beyond Breakfast Sausage

This breakfast staple, available in links and patties, is easy to prepare. Enjoy with pancakes, fried for frittata, or tucked into an English muffin for a delicious morning sandwich.


6 Beyond Beef Crumbles

These crumbles are a convenient ingredient for nachos, spaghetti sauce, tacos, sloppy joes, and more.

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7 Beyond Chicken Tenders

Beyond’s tasty tends can be baked and used in wraps, sandwiches, salads, tacos, or any recipe that calls for breaded chicken.

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8 Beyond Chicken Fillet

This chicken patty, available in original and spicy varieties, makes recreating chicken sandos from your favorite fast-food joint quick, easy, and equally delicious.

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9 Beyond Popcorn Chicken

Popcorn chicken is party-ready. When paired with an array of dips and sauces, these bite-sized eats are a perfect appetizer for any get-together. 

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10Beyond Chicken Nuggets 

Classic nuggets round out this vegan brand’s chicken offerings. Even the toughest kid critics will approve. 

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10 Beyond Steak

These smoky, tender seared tips are perfect for loading into tacos, atop nachos, burritos bowls, salads, and more. 

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11 Beyond Jerky

Available in Teriyaki, Original, and Hot & Spicy Flavors, these slow-roasted and kettle-cooked snacks pack a whopping 10 grams of protein per serving.
Find it here

How to use Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat products come with cooking instructions and are prepared just like animal-based meat. They are sold ready to cook—no further prep is required. Check the sell-by date, as the products should be used right away. If purchased frozen, be sure to thaw the Beyond Meat product before cooking. Beyond Jerky is ready to eat upon purchase. 

Where to find Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat’s flagship product, the Beyond Burger, can be found at more than 30,000 grocery stores, schools, and such restaurant chains as A&W, Carl’s Jr., and Denny’s. You can also find Beyond Meat products being used at Peet’s Coffee, Carl’s Jr, and Veggie Grill, among many other eateries. Check out the company’s store locator here to find Beyond Meat products near you. 

Beyond Meat recipes

Looking for recipes to make with your Beyond Meat products? While the below recipes don’t specifically call for this vegan meat, they’re sure to satiate your hunger and satisfy any meat eater when made with Beyond Meat.

VegNews.CrunchwrapSupremeHannah Sunderani

1Vegan Crunchwrap Supreme With Gooey Cashew Queso

Use Beyond Beef Crumbles to make this tasty plant-based twist on a fast-food classic, which also features a spicy cashew queso sauce, tortilla chips, salsa, veggies, and avocado. Sorry Taco Bell, we don’t need you this time.
Get the recipe

VegNews.CheeseburgerTotsDustin Harder

2 Vegan Cheeseburger Tater Tots With Cashew Cheddar Sauce

These loaded tater tots might be the ultimate comfort dish thanks to the layers of gooey vegan cheddar sauce and vegan ground beef, which you can source from Beyond Meat if you so please. To finish, drizzle with mustard or ketchup (or both!).
Get the recipe


3Vegan Mushroom-Sausage Breakfast Hash Tacos

Nothing says the weekend is here like a delicious breakfast (or brunch) of hearty tacos. Load them up with pickled red onions, Beyond Sausages, your favorite vegetables, and that all-important fajita seasoning.
Get the recipe

VegNews.StuffedShellsBrianna Claxton

4Vegan Sausage and Ricotta Stuffed Shells With Vodka Sauce

This creamy, pink tomato vodka pasta is rich in flavor and super filling, making it the perfect midweek dish. For extra spice, add Beyond Meat’s Hot Italian Plant-Based Sausage.
Get the recipe

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5Vegan Crunchy Chalupa Naan Tacos With Avocado-Ranch Sauce

 What could be more comforting than fried naan folded into tacos filled with savory vegan beef, avocado-ranch sauce, lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes? The answer is not much, so get cooking.
Get the recipe

For more vegan meats, read:

Here at VegNews, we live and breathe the vegan lifestyle, and only recommend products we feel make our lives amazing. Occasionally, articles may include shopping links where we might earn a small commission. In no way does this effect the editorial integrity of VegNews.

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