The Meat Lovers' Guide to Plant-Based Meat

CR analyzed 32 faux burgers, nuggets, fillets, and sausages for taste and nutrition, and talked with experts about whether they’re better for the environment. Here’s what you need to know.

Plant based packaged food products Photo: Gregory Reid

I’d been a vegetarian for a decade when the global pandemic hit in 2020 and, for reasons I still can’t explain, suddenly found myself with a Popeyes chicken sandwich in my hand. Now, as the pandemic panic recedes, I seem to be returning to my plant-based ways—but with a meaty twist. Thanks to a new crop of faux meats, my freezer is a new-age Old MacDonald’s farm, with a chik’n here, a “burger” there, and even a “fish” filet and “pork” sausage or two.

And I’m not the only one. More Americans are trying to eat more plants or less meat—53 percent, according to an August 2021 Consumer Reports nationally representative survey of 2,165 adults. 

Of course, not everyone is ready to trade sirloin for tofu. So this current crop of plant-based meat—which includes burgers from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, as well as fillets from Good Catch and sausages from MorningStar Farms Incogmeato—aims to be guilt-free for vegetarians and animal lovers yet meaty enough for carnivores. We’re not talking about your granddad’s black bean burgers here. These aim to look like, taste like, and have the texture of meat.

More on Plant-Based Diets

But speaking as someone who spent a decade as a vegetarian and 30 years enjoying ribs in the summer and turkey in the fall, as well as 50 cent wings every Thursday night of my college career, reading the ingredients and the Nutrition Facts labels on these products can make you wonder what exactly is in these new-fangled foods and whether they really are better for you, and the world. 

To find out, CR looked at 32 plant-based burgers, fillets, nuggets, and sausages, comparing them on taste and nutrition. We also dug into the research and talked with nutritionists and environmental scientists to answer common questions about these brave new foods.

What's in Plant-Based Meat?

For some consumers, what’s not in it—namely, animals—is reason enough to give it a try. Others, however, are put off by what is in it—namely, a long list of unfamiliar ingredients. In fact, 19 percent of people in a 2020 nationwide survey by Mattson, a food research firm, cited “too many ingredients I can’t pronounce” as a reason to take a pass.

Creating meat from plants takes some doing. Most start with a protein, often pea or soy, to provide structure. These aren’t the whole foods, but concentrates and isolates extracted in a lab. Oil is added to make the food juicy and tender. Binding agents, such as methylcellulose, starch, and gums, give texture.

Some manufacturers fortify the products with nutrients, such as vitamin B12, so they’re closer to meat. One of the fish replacers—from Gardein—had added omega-3s, the heart-healthy fats in fish. The products also contain meaty flavorings and colorings, though the details are often proprietary.

CR tester cooking plant based sausages
CR's test kitchen staff cooks up Beyond Meat Beyond Sausage Plant-Based Links Sweet Italian for our tasters to evaluate.

Photo: John Walsh/Consumer Reports Photo: John Walsh/Consumer Reports

Which Taste Most Like Meat?

None were identical—but some came close, and our panel of sensory experts judged at least one in each category to be very good. “It was the overall flavor profile that gave the impression of meat,” says Amy Keating, RD, a CR nutritionist who oversaw our testing.

Among the burgers, Impossible and Beyond’s were the most meatlike. Impossible’s Chicken Nuggets came “closest to tasting like a typical chicken nugget,” and MorningStar Farm’s Veggie Chik’n Strips shredded “like chicken breast,” Keating says. Three pork pretenders—Beyond Meat’s breakfast and sweet Italian sausages and MorningStar’s breakfast links—were reminiscent of the real thing. Gardein’s fish-and-chip-style fillets and Good Catch’s patties were at least somewhat fishlike.

Of course, food doesn’t have to taste like meat to taste good. And CR’s testers rated several without a meaty taste highly, including Boca’s All American Veggie Burgers and Quorn’s Meatless Nuggets.

Do They Cost Less Than Real Meat?

No, at least not now. In early April 2022, a pound of ground beef in the U.S. averaged $3.99 per pound; boneless chicken breast, $4.14. The least expensive plant-based meat in our tests was a Tofurky sausage at $5.71 per pound. The priciest: Daring’s chicken, at $16 per pound.

The differential may diminish in coming years if meat prices continue to rise and plant-based meat production becomes more efficient and competitive. For example, Amazon Fresh just launched a “budget friendly” line of plant-based meat including Chick’n Nuggets for about $6.30 a pound and plant burger patties for $6.40.

Are Plant-Based Meats Healthier?

That’s the main reason people say they’re interested in plant-based meats, CR’s survey found. But it’s not clear that they always are healthier.

Many products in CR’s test had fewer calories and less artery-clogging saturated fat. The sausages, for example, had less per serving than the 6 grams in a serving of Jimmy Dean Fully Cooked sausage. But that wasn’t true across the board.

While eight of the burgers had less saturated fat than what’s in 85 percent lean ground beef, two—Gardein’s and Impossible’s—had more. “Some of these mock burgers have highly saturated coconut or palm oil,” Keating says. “That’s because they melt slowly, giving a similar mouthfeel to animal fats.”

Most of the products CR looked at—unlike real meat—had lots of sodium, which can raise blood pressure. In general, the plant-based sausages, breaded chicken nuggets, and fish fillets had amounts similar to those in their counterparts from the farm and sea. But nuggets from Raised & Rooted had more sodium than Tyson’s real ones.

No surprise: Plant-based proteins have more fiber (meat doesn’t have any). Most don’t have a lot—less than 3 grams per serving—though MorningStar’s Incog­meato patties have 8 grams. That’s almost a third of the daily value, and comparable to what you’d get from a serving of whole plant proteins, such as beans.

Mock vs. Meat
Here’s how plant-based meats compare nutritionally per serving with the real thing.
SAUSAGE
(2 Links)
MorningStar Farms Incogmeato 100% Plant Protein Breakfast Sausage Links
Jimmy Dean Fully Cooked Original Pork Sausage Links
100
CALORIES
180
1
SATURATED FAT (g)
6
6
PROTEIN (g)
5.3
5
CARBOHYDRATES (g)
0.7
3
FIBER (g)
0
250
SODIUM (mg)
326
CHICKEN NUGGETS
(5 Nuggets)
Impossible Foods Chicken Nuggets
Tyson Fully Cooked Chicken Nuggets
240
CALORIES
270
1.5
SATURATED FAT (g)
4
13
PROTEIN (g)
14
19
CARBOHYDRATES (g)
15
2
FIBER (g)
0
480
SODIUM (mg)
470
BEEF BURGER
(4 Ounces)
Beyond Meat Beyond Burger Plant-Based Patties
85% Lean Ground Beef Patty, Broiled
230
CALORIES
283
5
SATURATED FAT (g)
6.5
20
PROTEIN (g)
29
7
CARBOHYDRATES (g)
0
2
FIBER (g)
0
390
SODIUM (mg)
81
BEEF BURGER
(4 Ounces)
Impossible Foods Burger Patties
90% Lean Ground Beef Patty, Broiled
240
CALORIES
245
8
SATURATED FAT (g)
5
19
PROTEIN (g)
29.5
9
CARBOHYDRATES (g)
0
3
FIBER (g)
0
370
SODIUM (mg)
77
CHICKEN STRIPS
(3 Ounces)
MorningStar Farms Veggie Chik’n Strips
Roasted Chicken
140
CALORIES
162
0
SATURATED FAT (g)
1.7
24
PROTEIN (g)
24.5
5
CARBOHYDRATES (g)
0
<1
FIBER (g)
0
370
SODIUM (mg)
73
BREADED FISH
(2 Pieces)
Gardein Plant-Based F’sh Filets
Gorton’s Crispy Battered Fish Fillets
200
CALORIES
230
1
SATURATED FAT (g)
1
9
PROTEIN (g)
10
12
CARBOHYDRATES (g)
23
2
FIBER (g)
1
360
SODIUM (mg)
510

What About Those Added Ingredients?

That is a worry. Lots of evidence supports plant-based diets, but most comes from research involving whole foods, says Basheerah Enahora, RD, who has a plant-forward nutrition counseling practice in Charlotte, N.C. That means lots of fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains, and modest amounts of poultry, fish, and low-fat red meat.

These mock meats are plant-based—but they’re not whole foods. And that raises concerns among nutrition pros because growing research links ultraprocessed foods to increased risks of heart disease, weight gain, and more.

It’s not clear whether processed “meats” pose the same risks, says Stephan van Vliet, PhD, of the Center for Human Nutrition Studies at Utah State University in Logan. “Not all ultraprocessed foods are bad,” he says, citing soy and almond milks as healthy examples.

Still, van Vliet, the lead author of a study comparing grass-fed and plant-based burgers, sees important differences between the two. Notably, whole foods contain thousands of compounds in addition to those listed on nutrition labels. “Foods are more complex than the sum of their parts,” he says. “It’s challenging to put together a replacement that contains them all.”

It can be a struggle to include even some familiar nutrients. One study found that swapping animal products with plant-based meat and dairy makes it harder to get enough calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and­—especially—vitamin B12, which is found naturally only in animal foods. Among products CR looked at, only five—two “chickens” and three “burgers”—had that vitamin added.

Trying to recreate the benefits of whole foods can raise other issues. Impossible’s burgers, for example, have soy leghemoglobin, a compound created from soybean roots that’s chemically similar to the heme iron in meat. Impossible Foods founder Pat Brown says it “produces the explosion of flavor and aroma when you throw a burger on a grill.” But some research links the heme in beef to colon cancer. “So in theory an Impossible Burger may pose a similar problem,” says Michael Hansen, PhD, a senior scientist at CR.

Which Have the Most Protein?

The makers of plant-based meats play up protein: Twenty-seven of the 32 products CR tested come with a protein claim. In some cases, the amounts are fairly close to what’s in the real thing. For example, a MorningStar Farms Meat Lovers burger has 27 grams and No Evil Foods “chicken” strips have 25 grams.

While protein is essential, the average American gets plenty. Much of it does come from meat, which raises concerns, says Dana Hunnes, PhD, a dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. She says meat protein is inflammatory, which could make tumors grow faster and pose other health issues. That suggests that getting more protein from plants could be a good thing. Some of that could come from faux meats—or from beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, and nut butters. “There’s some protein in many foods, and small amounts add up,” Keating says.

Are They Really Better for the Environment?

That is the second-most-common reason people give for trying plant-based meats, CR’s survey found. And meat clearly contributes to climate change: The way we grow, transport, and consume food accounts for about a third of the planet-heating gases created by humans, with animal-based foods causing twice as much as plant-based ones, according to a 2021 study in the journal Nature Food.

Beef alone accounts for roughly half the emissions linked to U.S. diets but provides just 3 percent of the calories. It also takes about 110 gallons of water to produce a pound of rice, compared with 1,840 gallons for a pound of beef.

So moving toward plant-based proteins can be a powerful way to address climate change. And a 2020 analysis led by researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found that plant-based meats could help, with a carbon footprint about 90 percent smaller than beef’s and 40 percent less than poultry’s. On the other hand, they’re 1.6 to seven times more energy-intensive than tofu, peas, or other less processed plant proteins. And beef raised with sustainable farming practices, such as pasturing fewer cattle on grass and tilling waste into soil, may produce fewer greenhouse gases, too.

The Bottom Line

Nutritionist Enahora sees these foods as a mixed bag but thinks that if they help you move toward a plant-based diet, that’s good. “Starting with plant meat might make sense if you’re not relying on it every day and you’re including whole foods,” she says. Shanika Whitehurst, associate director of product sustainability, research, and testing at CR, agrees, especially on the issue of climate change. “Even being heavily processed,” she says, “plant meat has less of an environmental impact than industrial animal production.”

CR's Mock Meat Ratings

Products are grouped by the type of meat they mimic and ranked first by nutrition, then by taste. Those with the same score are listed in alphabetical order.

'BEEF' BURGERS
BEYOND MEAT
Beyond Burger Plant-Based Patties
3

Nutrition
Score
4

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Thick and juicy, with browned exterior. Taste and texture close to a burger’s. Moderately salty.

Package size: 8 oz.
Price per serving: $3.00

  • Serving size 1 patty
  • Calories 230
  • Saturated fat (g) 5.0
  • Protein (g) 20
  • Carbohydrates (g) 7
  • Fiber (g) 2
  • Sodium (mg) 390
BOCA
All American Veggie Burgers
3

Nutrition
Score
4

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Thin, moist, and slightly chewy; crisp exterior. Good blend of onion and other savory flavors. Kind of salty.

Package size: 10 oz.
Price per serving: $1.05

  • Serving size 1 patty
  • Calories 110
  • Saturated fat (g) 1.5
  • Protein (g) 14
  • Carbohydrates (g) 7
  • Fiber (g) 4
  • Sodium (mg) 390
IMPOSSIBLE FOODS
Burger Patties
3

Nutrition
Score
4

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Looks like a medium-rare burger and tastes close to one, too. Savory flavors and moderately salty.

Package size: 8 oz.
Price per serving: $3.50

  • Serving size 1 patty
  • Calories 240
  • Saturated fat (g) 8.0
  • Protein (g) 19
  • Carbohydrates (g) 9
  • Fiber (g) 3
  • Sodium (mg) 370
365 Whole Foods Market
Meatless Plant-Based Burgers Traditional
3

Nutrition
Score
3

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Moist and slightly chewy but not at all similar to a beef burger. Mild onion and garlic flavors.

Package size: 10 oz.
Price per serving: $1.05

  • Serving size 1 patty
  • Calories 80
  • Saturated fat (g) 0
  • Protein (g) 10
  • Carbohydrates (g) 7
  • Fiber (g) 2
  • Sodium (mg) 320
Dr. Praeger’s
Perfect Burger
3

Nutrition
Score
3

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Crisp outside; slightly chewy and moist, pink interior. Looks like beef but has a smoky flavor that leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Package size: 8 oz.
Price per serving: $2.00

  • Serving size 1 patty
  • Calories 230
  • Saturated fat (g) 2.0
  • Protein (g) 20
  • Carbohydrates (g) 8
  • Fiber (g) 4
  • Sodium (mg) 380
Good & Gather (Target)
Plant-Based Meatless Beef-Style Patties
3

Nutrition
Score
3

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Slightly chewy, with a crisp exterior; on the dry side. Has some burgerlike browned, smoky notes.

Package size: 12 oz.
Price per serving: $1.08

  • Serving size 1 patty
  • Calories 150
  • Saturated fat (g) 0.5
  • Protein (g) 16
  • Carbohydrates (g) 8
  • Fiber (g) 3
  • Sodium (mg) 370
MorningStar Farms
Incogmeato 100% Plant Protein Burger Patties
3

Nutrition
Score
3

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Slightly dry and chewy, with faux gristle bits. Appearance is more like beef than its taste, with some salt, spices, and smoky flavors.

Package size: 8.5 oz.
Price per serving: $3.00

  • Serving size 1 patty
  • Calories 250
  • Saturated fat (g) 5.0
  • Protein (g) 21
  • Carbohydrates (g) 12
  • Fiber (g) 8
  • Sodium (mg) 370
MorningStar Farms
Vegan Meat Lovers Burgers
2

Nutrition
Score
3

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Almost charred exterior. Stringy texture. Flavorful, with some salt, slightly spicy heat, and big browned flavor.

Package size: 8 oz.
Price per serving: $3.20

  • Serving size 1 patty
  • Calories 280
  • Saturated fat (g) 2.5
  • Protein (g) 27
  • Carbohydrates (g) 8
  • Fiber (g) 4
  • Sodium (mg) 580
Gardein
Ultimate Plant-Based Burger
2

Nutrition
Score
2

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Very spongy. Looks like a burger but doesn’t taste like one. Some salt, browned, onion, and garlic flavors.

Package size: 8 oz.
Price per serving: $2.00

  • Serving size 1 patty
  • Calories 210
  • Saturated fat (g) 9.0
  • Protein (g) 20
  • Carbohydrates (g) 7
  • Fiber (g) 1
  • Sodium (mg) 450
Trader Joe’s
Protein Patties Plant Based Burgers
2

Nutrition
Score
2

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Has a rare, almost raw “meat” appearance and texture. Bland, with smoky to ashy flavors.

Package size: 8 oz.
Price per serving: $2.05

  • Serving size 1 patty
  • Calories 290
  • Saturated fat (g) 3.0
  • Protein (g) 18
  • Carbohydrates (g) 11
  • Fiber (g) 5
  • Sodium (mg) 450
‘CHICKEN’ NUGGETS
Impossible Foods
Chicken Nuggets
3

Nutrition
Score
4

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Came closest to tasting like a typical chicken nugget. Moist, flavorful. Moderately salty, with a black pepper kick.

Package size: 13.5 oz.
Price per serving: $2.10

  • Serving Size 5 nuggets
  • Calories 240
  • Saturated fat (g) 1.5
  • Protein (g) 13
  • Carbohydrates (g) 19
  • Fiber (g) 2
  • Sodium (mg) 480
Quorn
Meatless Nuggets
3

Nutrition
Score
4

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Thick, crispy breading; chickenlike texture. Flavorful overall, with moderate browned, salt, and black pepper flavors.

Package size: 10.6 oz.
Price per serving: $1.62

  • Serving Size 4 nuggets
  • Calories 216
  • Saturated fat (g) 0.5
  • Protein (g) 10
  • Carbohydrates (g) 33
  • Fiber (g) 3
  • Sodium (mg) 470
365 Whole Foods Market
Chicken-Style Plant-Based Nuggets
3

Nutrition
Score
3

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Lightly browned, slightly crisp breaded nugget with slightly chickeny flavor. Mildly seasoned, with soft interior and oily mouthfeel.

Package size: 10.5 oz.
Price per serving: $1.20

  • Serving Size 4 nuggets
  • Calories 140
  • Saturated fat (g) 0.5
  • Protein (g) 12
  • Carbohydrates (g) 13
  • Fiber (g) 2
  • Sodium (mg) 420
Beyond Meat
Beyond Chicken Plant-Based Breaded Tenders
3

Nutrition
Score
3

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Thick tenders with a slightly crisp exterior. Good chickeny flavor, but rubbery texture. On the salty side, with spicy heat.

Package size: 8 oz.
Price per serving: $1.67

  • Serving Size 2 tenders
  • Calories 210
  • Saturated fat (g) 2.0
  • Protein (g) 11
  • Carbohydrates (g) 15
  • Fiber (g) 3
  • Sodium (mg) 450
Jack & Annie’s
Crispy Jack Nuggets
3

Nutrition
Score
3

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Slightly soggy and mushy, with a grayish interior. Has moderate chickeny flavor, with garlic and spicy heat.

Package size: 10.1 oz.
Price per serving: $1.71

  • Serving Size 4 nuggets
  • Calories 190
  • Saturated fat (g) 1.5
  • Protein (g) 6
  • Carbohydrates (g) 19
  • Fiber (g) 5
  • Sodium (mg) 400
Simulate
Nuggs Plant-Based Nuggets
3

Nutrition
Score
3

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Browned, crunchy breading flavor dominates. Mild flavor isn’t very meatlike, and interior is on the dry side.

Package size: 10.4 oz.
Price per serving: $1.71

  • Serving Size 5 nuggets
  • Calories 200
  • Saturated fat (g) 1.5
  • Protein (g) 13
  • Carbohydrates (g) 16
  • Fiber (g) 2
  • Sodium (mg) 400
Raised & Rooted
Plant Based Nuggets
2

Nutrition
Score
3

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Slightly crispy outside with a slightly spongey interior. Mildly seasoned, with chicken-broth-like and black pepper flavors.

Package size: 8 oz.
Price per serving: $2.00

  • Serving Size 4 nuggets
  • Calories 200
  • Saturated fat (g) 1.5
  • Protein (g) 8
  • Carbohydrates (g) 18
  • Fiber (g) 4
  • Sodium (mg) 560
‘CHICKEN’ PIECES
MorningStar Farms
Veggie Chik’n Strips
3

Nutrition
Score
4

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Looks and shreds like chicken breast. A little heavy on the poultry seasoning but flavorful overall.

Package size: 10 oz.
Price per serving: $1.83

  • Serving size 13 strips
  • Calories 140
  • Saturated fat (g) 0
  • Protein (g) 24
  • Carbohydrates (g) 5
  • Fiber (g) <1
  • Sodium (mg) 370
Alpha Foods
Plant-Based Grilled Chik’n Strips
3

Nutrition
Score
3

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
There’s no mistaking it for real chicken, but it has a nice charred, savory flavor and a slightly chewy texture.

Package size: 8 oz.
Price per serving: $1.30

  • Serving size 1/2 cup
  • Calories 80
  • Saturated fat (g) 0
  • Protein (g) 10
  • Carbohydrates (g) 4
  • Fiber (g) 0
  • Sodium (mg) 310
Daring
Original Plant Chicken Pieces
3

Nutrition
Score
3

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Crispy browned pieces that are moderately salty and flavorful. Chewy and somewhat tough.

Package size: 8 oz.
Price per serving: $2.67

  • Serving size 2.5 oz.
  • Calories 90
  • Saturated fat (g) 0
  • Protein (g) 14
  • Carbohydrates (g) 1
  • Fiber (g) 4
  • Sodium (mg) 360
Gardein
Plant-Based Chick’n Strips
3

Nutrition
Score
3

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Slightly spongy strips with browned flavor. Mildly seasoned.

Package size: 10 oz.
Price per serving: $1.38

  • Serving size 1/3 pkg.
  • Calories 130
  • Saturated fat (g) 0.5
  • Protein (g) 15
  • Carbohydrates (g) 4
  • Fiber (g) 0
  • Sodium (mg) 370
Sweet Earth
Mindful Chik’n Strips
3

Nutrition
Rating
3

Sensory
Rating

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Tan chunks that are soft and slightly chewy. Tastes mostly of soy, with mild seasonings.

Package size: 8 oz.
Price per serving: $3.08

  • Serving size 3/4 cup
  • Calories 130
  • Saturated fat (g) 0
  • Protein (g) 18
  • Carbohydrates (g) 6
  • Fiber (g) 5
  • Sodium (mg) 330
No Evil Foods
No Chicken Comrade Cluck Shredded Plant-Based Strips
3

Nutrition
Score
2

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Dark chewy, rubbery chunks that are on the dry side. Slight soy sauce flavor and mild seasoning. Not chickenlike in texture or flavor.

Package size: 10 oz.
Price per serving: $1.33

  • Serving size 2.5 oz.
  • Calories 150
  • Saturated fat (g) 0
  • Protein (g) 25
  • Carbohydrates (g) 8
  • Fiber (g) 3
  • Sodium (mg) 330
‘FISH’ FILLETS
Gardein
Plant-Based F’sh Filets
3

Nutrition
Score
4

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Crispy batter coating. Interior more chewy than flaky. Mildly seasoned and slightly salty.

Package size: 10.1 oz.
Price per serving: $1.33

  • Serving size 2 pieces
  • Calories 200
  • Saturated fat (g) 1.0
  • Protein (g) 9
  • Carbohydrates (g) 12
  • Fiber (g) 2
  • Sodium (mg) 360
Good Catch
Plant-Based Fish Burgers Classic Style
3

Nutrition
Score
4

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Thick and moist, with big lemon and green onion flavors; slight garlic and salt. A bit chewy but decent overall.

Package size: 8 oz.
Price per serving: $3.00

  • Serving size 1 burger
  • Calories 160
  • Saturated fat (g) 0.5
  • Protein (g) 21
  • Carbohydrates (g) 9
  • Fiber (g) 2
  • Sodium (mg) 500
Sophie’s Kitchen
Plant-Based Fish Fillets
3

Nutrition
Score
3

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Slightly mushy, fishlike cake. Tastes better than it looks. Moderate ginger flavors.

Package size: 8.8 oz.
Price per serving: $1.73

  • Serving size 1 piece
  • Calories 180
  • Saturated fat (g) 1.0
  • Protein (g) 8
  • Carbohydrates (g) 20
  • Fiber (g) 3
  • Sodium (mg) 240
‘PORK’ SAUSAGES
Beyond Meat
Beyond Breakfast Sausage Classic Plant-Based Patties
3

Nutrition
Score
4

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Small, thick patty. Slightly crispy and moist. Moderately salty, with char flavor, fennel note, and slight heat.

Package size: 7.4 oz.
Price per serving: $1.58

  • Serving size 2 pieces
  • Calories 180
  • Saturated fat (g) 4.5
  • Protein (g) 11
  • Carbohydrates (g) 6
  • Fiber (g) 2
  • Sodium (mg) 270
MorningStar Farms
Incogmeato 100% Plant Protein Breakfast Sausage Links
3

Nutrition
Score
4

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Small links with sweet and smoky flavors. Texture slightly chewy and spongy, similar to that of a hot dog.

Package size: 6.5 oz.
Price per serving: $1.50

  • Serving size 2 links
  • Calories 100
  • Saturated fat (g) 1.0
  • Protein (g) 6
  • Carbohydrates (g) 5
  • Fiber (g) 3
  • Sodium (mg) 250
Lightlife
Plant-Based Breakfast Patties
3

Nutrition
Score
2

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Slightly soft and on the dry side. Harsh rosemary flavor and spiciness dominates.

Package size: 7.5 oz.
Price per serving: $1.50

  • Serving size 2 patties
  • Calories 170
  • Saturated fat (g) 1.0
  • Protein (g) 11
  • Carbohydrates (g) 4
  • Fiber (g) 1
  • Sodium (mg) 260
Beyond Meat
Beyond Sausage Plant-Based Links Sweet Italian
2

Nutrition
Rating
4

Sensory
Rating

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Very large, thick link. Juicy and slightly chewy. Tastes mostly of fennel and salt.

Package size: 14 oz.
Price per serving: $1.75

  • Serving size 1 link
  • Calories 190
  • Saturated fat (g) 5.0
  • Protein (g) 16
  • Carbohydrates (g) 5
  • Fiber (g) 3
  • Sodium (mg) 500
Field Roast
Plant-Based Sausages Italian Garlic & Fennel
2

Nutrition
Score
3

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Rubbery and somewhat dry. Spicy heat, with overpowering red pepper and fennel flavors.

Package size: 12.95 oz.
Price per serving: $1.50

  • Serving size 1 link
  • Calories 220
  • Saturated fat (g) 0.5
  • Protein (g) 25
  • Carbohydrates (g) 13
  • Fiber (g) 0
  • Sodium (mg) 600
Tofurky
Plant-Based Original Sausage Italian
2

Nutrition
Score
3

Sensory
Score

FLAVOR AND TEXTURE:
Rubbery, large link, with a dry texture. Has sun-dried tomato and big spicy heat flavors; seasoning a bit harsh.

Package size: 14 oz.
Price per serving: $1.25

  • Serving size 1 link
  • Calories 260
  • Saturated fat (g) 1.5
  • Protein (g) 23
  • Carbohydrates (g) 9
  • Fiber (g) 2
  • Sodium (mg) 490

How We Test: To get the nutrition score, CR evaluated the products based on their listed values for calories, fiber, protein, iron, vitamin B12, saturated fat, and sodium. (We show the grams of carbohydrates, though they are not factored into the nutrition score.) We also reviewed the products’ ingredients. Those with more processed ingredients were penalized. For the sensory score, a trained panel of sensory experts participated in a blind tasting. They judged the products based on their overall quality (texture and flavor) and how well they mimicked real beef, poultry, pork sausage, or fish. During the initial round of testing, the panel tasted samples of beef, poultry, and pork for reference. 

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the June 2022 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.


Brian Vines

I'm a journalist with a healthy sense of outrage and a passion for amplifying the voices of those too often ignored. I've worked behind the scenes at CNN, as a managing editor in community television, and as senior correspondent at BRIC-TV, where I was part of an Emmy Award–winning team dedicated to social justice. At CR, I explore marketplace inequities to remove barriers between consumers and the goods and services they are seeking.