Since its launch last spring in the U.S., Beyond Meat has been talked about in hushed tones like the Second Coming of the vegan deity (you know, Seitan). The hype surrounding the plant-based meat alternative has been similar to that received by the revolutionary—and locally made—vegan products Daiya and Gardein when they entered the market.
And now it’s here. On February 8, Beyond Meat—which is an El Segundo, California-based company—announced that its chicken-free strips have made their Canadian debut in Vancouver and West Vancouver. Specifically, the product is being used in prepared foods at the Cambie, Kitsilano, Robson, and Village at Park Royal locations of Whole Foods Market.
On B.C.’s first Family Day, we stopped by Whole Schmooze’s Kitsilano location (2285 West 4th Avenue) and took home the three Beyond Meat items on offer. There were signs in the deli section for the “meat-free, vegan and gluten-free meat alternative that mimics chicken taste and texture”, so we couldn’t miss ‘em.
The Vegan Curried Chick’n Salad was going for $3.99 per 100 grams, while the Vegan General Tsao’s Chick’n was on sale for $2.99 per 100 grams. A Vegan Curried Chicken Salad Roll Up cost $5.49 on sale. The in-store signs said Whole Foods will also be using Beyond Meat in sandwiches.
So, does Beyond Meat actually taste like chicken? Like Gardein, if you didn’t know it was vegan, you might be fooled. We found the taste was indeed reminiscent of chicken. The product was cubed in the curried salad and wrap, while the strips were breaded for the General Tsao’s.
Most surprising, however, was the texture. It was very chewy—almost tough—like overcooked chicken, but we aren’t sure whether that’s due to how it was prepared by Whole Foods. The firmness of the product wasn’t a turn-off, however, as that just contributed to the meatiness of it.
Beyond Meat’s ingredient list is led by soy protein isolate, pea protein isolate, amaranth, and natural vegan chicken flavour derived from maltodextrin, yeast extract, and natural flavouring. The strips don’t contain genetically modified organisms or saturated and trans fats.
While Beyond Meat was delicious in the deli foods, what we really want to get our hands on is the retail product. According to the company, retail packages are due out later this year.