Our nation’s obsession with red meat takes a large toll on the environment and our health, but Beyond Meat—the company behind the 100 percent vegan, plant-based Beyond Burger—wants to change all that. It introduced a savory patty made strictly from plants that it claims looks, cooks, and tastes like red meat. Its ultimate goal: To get consumers to rethink the idea of "meat"—that it doesn't have to come from an animal, for starters.

“Livestock is the largest contributor of [greenhouse gas] emissions,” says Beyond Meat founder Ethan Brown. “So I figured, why do you need an animal to create a piece of meat? That didn’t make sense to me—why don’t we innovate?”

Beyond Meat also makes the Beast Burger, which can be found with the other “veggie” burgers in the frozen food aisle.

But the Beyond Burger is different. The patties—sold in packages of two—look almost exactly like raw beef burgers. In fact, the product sits right next to raw beef in the meat case. The primary ingredient of the Beyond Burger, though, is pea protein. It also contains vegetable oils, yeast extract for a savory taste, “natural flavors,” binders, plant fiber, and extracts. 

“It’s for people who love meat,” says Brown. “We’re not telling people to eat less meat; we’re actually enabling customers to eat more [plant-based] meat.”

A NYC chef prepares the Beyond Burger.
Photo: Julia Calderone

So if you love real beef burgers, could you be fooled by the Beyond Burger? Consumer Reports had the opportunity to taste the Beyond Burger, prepared by three chefs based in New York, at a press event hosted by the company to introduce the new product in New York. (We had previously tasted the Impossible Burger—another “meatless meat,” developed by Impossible Foods—at its debut in July, at an event hosted by that company.)

The Beyond Burger patty is thick, like a real burger, and has a fatty mouth feel—that’s from coconut oil. The outside doesn’t get crispy like real meat, but that might be something you could remedy by grilling it, says Claudia Gallo, senior technician and food tester at Consumer Reports. The texture was very similar to ground beef, but on its own it didn't measure up to ground beef in flavor. “Still, it might not be the best burger you’ve ever tried, but on a bun and with all the toppings, it’s a pretty tasty burger.”

The Beyond Burger.
Photo: Antonella Pomilla

If you’re not a meat lover, the fattiness and texture of the Beyond Burger might turn you off. The cooked consistency is a little chunky and chewy, similar to that of ground beef, and the red coloring from the beet juice also gives the meat a slightly bloody look.

As for nutrition, a 4-ounce patty has 290 calories, 22 grams of fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 20 grams of protein, and 450 milligrams of sodium. That’s about 14 percent fewer calories than you’d get in the same serving of a regular ground-beef patty and about half the saturated fat. However, the Beyond patty comes with just over five times more sodium and 23 percent less protein.

The Beyond Burger is currently sold only at select Whole Foods locations in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, New Mexico, Utah, Virginia, and now New York. The meat comes only preformed into patties. In the future, Brown hopes the company will be able to sell it in a brick so that you can be more creative with the way you cook it—such as throwing it into a Bolognese sauce or cooking it into chili.