We've come a long way since Tofu Pups.
Beyond Meat, the futuristic vegan meat brand that made waves with its bleeding burger—it was beet juice y’all—just announced this morning that it will be expanding its relatively new line of products, Beyond Sausage, to Whole Foods stores nationwide.
Why is this news? There have been plant-based sausage brands around for a long time. They've mostly been seitan-based: think category favorite Field Roast and MorningStar, best known for their frozen burgers and sausages. Tofu Pups, a satirized but solid effort at replicating the hot dog experience, has also been a mainstay. Beyond Meat sausages, however, seem to be the first and most widely available vegan sausage on the market that actually resembles raw meat when cold and then turn pink when cooked. This is more than just aesthetic placating for vegans: the product’s semipermeable membrane also lets fat sizzle through during the cooking process, releasing fat and aromas that more closely replicates the experience of meat than any other sausage product on the market. The curve of the sausage—which has a spring just like its animal-derived counterparts that are curved due to the elasticity of the traditional intestinal casing—is due to its curved mold.
Cut into the sausage, and you’ll see globules of fat—stabilized coconut oil—and variation in texture mimicking tendon and muscle. Field Roast and Tofu Pups, by contrast, are texturally homogenous.
All this is thanks to the team of ex-cancer researchers Beyond Meat has at its Los Angeles-area headquarters, studying color proteins and aroma compounds to extraordinary detail. (We went behind the scenes to tour the lab: Read all about it here.)
So far, we’ve made no mention of Impossible Burger, which is Beyond Meat’s equally tech-forward competitor. The company does not (yet) have a sausage product, and so far its burgers, endorsed by the likes of David Chang, are only available at restaurants (including White Castle), not supermarkets. It also contains heme, a compound whose safety has been debated.
Beyond Sausage has so far been available at select restaurants nationwide, in addition to the Boulder, CO Whole Foods store where it debuted. Company reps tell Food & Wine it should make it to all U.S. Whole Foods stores within a few days to a few weeks, depending on distribution. The suggested retail price is $8.99 for a package of four links.