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Beyond Meat just launched Breakfast Sausage -- here's how it tastes

I took a trip to Beyond Meat's headquarters to see exactly how the (plant-based) sausage gets made.

beyond-breakfast-sausage

Beyond Meat announced two new products today -- a spicy and regular version of Breakfast Sausage.

Beyond Meat

If you love Beyond Meat products so much that you want to incorporate them into every meal, the company has heard you loud and clear. Today it announced a brand-new product: Beyond Breakfast Sausage flavors. The Beyond Breakfast Sausage will be on grocery store shelves towards the end of March at ACME, Albertsons, Vons, Whole Foods and other stores, so you'll be able to cook up frozen patties with your morning meal at home.

The Beyond Breakfast Sausage will be available in two flavors, classic and spicy. Both flavors use spices like sage and black pepper to give a flavor similar to pork breakfast sausage. The patties go from frozen to cooked in five minutes. 

This new breakfast sausage joins Beyond Meat's other plant-based "meat" products, which include ground "beef" and a faux-meat bratwurst. Beyond Meat's biggest competitor, Impossible Foods launched its first faux-pork product at CES 2020, but you cannot buy it in grocery stores yet.

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Beyond Meat

I took a trip down to Beyond Meat's research and development headquarters in Los Angeles to taste the new product and see how it gets made. There were devices that could measure smells, mechanical mouths and individual testing rooms -- at times I felt like I was in a Breaking Bad laboratory. But at the end of the day, I thought that the Beyond Breakfast Sausage tasted pretty darn good (and this is coming from someone who enjoys pork breakfast sausage).

One notable aspect of the Beyond Meat Breakfast Sausage is the ingredient list -- it doesn't contain any GMOs, soy, gluten, nitrates, nitrites, antibiotics or hormones. Beyond avoids these ingredients to distinguish themselves from its competitors who use GMOs and soy.

A Beyond Meat spokesperson admitted that not using GMOs makes mimicking the flavor, texture and taste of meat difficult, but they've designed a futuristic-looking lab to help them overcome these barriers.

Inside the lab

If you've eaten a beef burger, you know its distinct mouthfeel. The outside is fully cooked, but once you bite through you find a tender and juicy center. Beyond Meat has been working on replicating this experience to avoid the crumbly and dry texture of old-fashioned veggie burgers.

beyond-meat-ingredients

These ingredients comprise almost everything that goes into a Beyond Meat product.

Caroline Roberts / CNET

With this end in mind, we meet the e-mouth. It's a large metal cylinder, where a freshly cooked Beyond patty sits between two plates. The plates squeeze the burger with varying levels of force, measuring how much the patty pushes back. The scientists at Beyond Meat, fitted with white lab coats and goggles, want to achieve the exact level of force needed to chew the burger.

There's also a machine designed to test the aroma emitted from a cooked Beyond beef patty. A lab scientist tells me that we actually have more aroma sensory nodes than taste detectors, so replicating the distinct smell of meat is vitally important. The device heats up the meat and separates the cloud of aroma gases that arise. These levels are then measured to ensure they have the right notes in the right amounts.

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The "e-mouth" is an electronic chewing press that Beyond uses to quantify how new versions of burger push back when you chew.

CNET

If you thought that this process sounds a bit too scientific, don't worry -- Beyond Meat also recognizes the need for subjective human taste testing. They have a stark white room with individual testing booths, where they perform blind taste samples to keep track of how close they are to a real beef burger, which a spokesperson called their "North Star."

Taste-testing Beyond Meat Breakfast Sausage

After my tour of the innovation labs, I got to sit down and enjoy an impressive platter of Beyond Meat products that the head chef whipped up for me. There was the Beyond Burger, Sausage Brat, an empanada with Beyond Beef and the two new variations of Beyond Breakfast Sausage. The only product I'd tried before was the Beyond Burger, and I was pleasantly surprised at how similar to real meat the other foods tasted. 

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The head chef whipped up an impressive platter of food for me to try.

Caroline Roberts / CNET

The Sausage had the realistic "snap" of the casing you get on pork sausages, and the classic version was extra delicious inside of two mini pancakes. I wish the spicy one was a bit spicier, but that can be fixed with some extra hot sauce on whatever breakfast you whip up at home.

What's next for Beyond Meat?

Beyond Meat's vision isn't just to provide a trendy and cute alternative breakfast sandwich -- it see its purpose as much grander. The R&D HQ is named the "Manhattan Beach Project Innovation Center," a nod to the nearby town of Manhattan Beach, California. A Beyond spokesperson also told me that the name was designed to invoke the same sense of global urgency to solve a global crisis as the Manhattan Project during World War II.

Consuming meat is said to have a significant impact on the environment -- some reports estimate that nearly 30% of the world's total human water usage comes from animal agriculture and that livestock takes up 30% of the world's ice-free land. But, it's tricky to define the actual environmental impact of plant-based meat in comparison, and there's disagreement among scientists whether or not we should consider plant-based diets as the cure-all to our environmental woes.

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Beyond Meat is trying to reduce the impact that animal agriculture has on the environment with its plant-based products.

Getty Images

With that being said, from an environmental standpoint the Beyond Burger is looking pretty good against a traditional beef burger. A study performed at the University of Michigan demonstrated that Beyond Burger generates 90% less greenhouse gas emissions, requires 46% less energy, has 99% less impact on water scarcity and 93% less impact on land use than a quarter pound of US beef. No word yet from Beyond Meat on how that compares with its Breakfast Sausage and Brat Sausage.

In the end, for Beyond Meat it's all about providing choice. The company knows that meat isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and don't want to make anyone feel bad for their dietary decisions. But if they can provide a plant-based alternative that tastes just as good and doesn't break the bank, they fully expect more consumers to incorporate their products into their diets. The Beyond Breakfast Sausage is just another step toward expanding plant-based meat's presence, and there's no telling how far this path may lead in the future.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.