Our resident vegetarian tried the newest "bleeding" meatless product, and it raised the question: Who is this for?
Credit: Beyond Meat

I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly 13 years, so alternative meat products are my bread and butter. I grew up on microwaved frozen veggie burgers, grilled vegan hot dogs (that, I'll admit, can be a little too reminiscent of plastic), and tofu turkey roasts on Thanksgiving Day. So, when a new meat-free product hits that market I’m all about trying it.

Now that plant-based eating is a little more mainstream, new products seem to pop up every day, and companies are getting better at making consumers believe they’re eating the real deal.

We’ve been intrigued by these new products. Our staff recently taste tested the three bleeding burgers available on the market, and our favorite one has gotten pretty popular. When Beyond Meat announced the new Beyond Sausage trio in December, I had to get my hands on it. And I discovered that they taste like meat. Maybe too much like meat.

The vegan sausages come in three flavors — bratwurst, spicy, and sweet. We gathered a handful of staffers for the official taste test and chose to cook them skillet-style. We were pleasantly surprised by how they released fat and sizzled like meat would. The cooked food smelled strikingly like the real thing, and they even released meaty juices as we sliced into them.

Credit: Arielle Weg

One bite in and I suddenly remembered I had never had sausage before in my life. I heard myself ask, “Is this what sausage tastes like?” Each bite had a slightly oily, yet grainy mouthfeel. The casing nearly dissolved into the insides, and I couldn’t quite shake the feeling of grease coating my tongue.

While other staffers took bite after bite discussing the meat replacement, I stared in astonishment at how they could stomach it. They agreed that these weren't quite sausage, but on a bun covered in sauerkraut and toppings they would definitely be hard to distinguish.

But that’s the thing about these too-close meat replacements. As a vegetarian, I don't think I’m their target audience. These “bleeding” vegan meats are really made for people who love meat and eat meat, but don't, for one reason or another, want to eat it. Whether it be for reasons regarding health or the environment, the Beyond Sausage can an awesome stepping stone for someone going from meat to plant-based eating. But it’s just… not for me.

Credit: Beyond Meat

The sausages are completely gluten and soy-free, boasting ingredients like pea protein, coconut oil, rice protein, and faba bean protein. The meaty, pink color comes from vegetable juice, and the unique casing is crafted from algae.

They are available nationwide at Whole Foods and select restaurant locations in New York (including Yankee Stadium), California, and Chicago. The suggested retail price is $8.99 for a four link pack.

Our nutritionists were big fans of the health benefits these vegan alternatives offer. Compared to a traditional pork sausage, Beyond Sausage has more protein and less total fat, saturated fat, calories, and sodium. Though, one of these in a bun and piled high with toppings is still not as healthy as homemade veggie burger.

So the verdict is: If you’re a meat eater looking to cut down on meat, this may be a fantastic first step into the plant-based world. Personally, I’m going to stick with my not-so-meaty alternatives. Plus, I’m always a big fan of making delicious plant-based recipes that use old school products like tofu and tempeh.