Grocery Packaged Food Plant-Based What's New

Plant-Based SPAM from OmniPork Makes Its USA Debut This Month

Photo courtesy of Chef Reina

In the United States, the plant-based giants we think of are Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. While these titans specialize in the vegan beef category (Beyond Meat does make a pork sausage substitute, however), a third titular vegan brand is finally hitting US shores after years of hype abroad.

Called OmniPork, this plant-based SPAM and pork substitute was created by Right Treat, a vegan brand under the Green Monday group (Right Treat changed their name to OmniFoods in 2020). Green Monday is a global organization based in Hong Kong advocating for a sustainable future of food, and OmniPork is one of the key ways they’ve been spreading awareness.

Photo courtesy of MANEATINGPLANT

OmniPork comes in a few varieties: Luncheon (their take on vegan SPAM), Strip, and a plant-based ground meat. While they make some of their own grocery store products, like frozen dumplings or rice dishes, you can also find it at fast food chains like Taco Bell and McDonald’s in Asia, Australia, and the UK.

For those wondering what’s inside OmniPork, it’s made with a blend of shiitake mushroom, pea, non-GMO soy, and rice. OmniPork claims to have 68% less calories than regular pork, while touting other nutritional benefits like calcium, iron, and fiber.

The brand also touts itself as cruelty-free and an alternative to consuming pork, which is the most consumed meat in China by far (65%). In the USA, about a quarter of the meat we consume comes from pigs.

Photo courtesy of Chef Reina

Eating plant-based meats isn’t necessarily meant to be “healthier,” but what OmniPork does provide is a way to enjoy the flavors and textures of pork while eating a more sustainable and environmentally friendly diet.

OmniPork’s USA debut will happen on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2021, with 8 restaurants getting the honor of serving up the vegan pig first.

In Los Angeles, you can find OmniPork at renowned spots like CHIFA, RiceBox, Little Fatty, MANEATINGPLANT, and Ramen Hood. San Francisco will get OmniPork from Chef Reina and Shizen, while Tane Vegan Izakaya and GOEN in Hawaii will also serve up meatless pork dishes using the product.

The restaurants will have all of their dishes available via delivery as well, and the overall launch is a sneak preview before OmniPork hits grocery stores nationwide this coming summer.

Photo courtesy of MANEATINGPLANT

OmniPork’s launch in the USA is monumental for multiple reasons. First, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat now have a third oligarch in plant-based meat to compete with, and OmniPork’s existing relationships with fast food brands will help it proliferate quickly in the restaurant scene.

Because of its well-established name in Asia, Australia, and the UK, OmniPork also comes with a lot of global street cred, with the USA launch being the latest step on its quest to bring a more sustainable future of food.

As OmniPork continues to grow, we should see plant-based pork offerings of all different kinds pop up across the USA. Personally, I’m rooting for a vegan McRib.

Grocery Health Packaged Food Plant-Based Sustainability

Impossible Burger Has FINALLY Arrived In Grocery Stores

Photo Courtesy of Impossible Foods

Impossible Foods has been making waves the last few years as they rapidly make themselves an imposing plant-based alternative for meat. Now, Impossible is bracing to hit another major milestone in their vegan empire.

The brand recently announced on their website and Instagram page that the Impossible Burger will be arriving to grocery stores today.


To be specific, the Impossible Burger will make its worldwide debut in grocery stores on September 20 at 27 outlets of Gelson’s Markets in Los Angeles, marking the first time that the general public can experience cooking the Impossible Burger in their own kitchens.

Until now, Beyond Meat has been one of the more popular plant-based meat alternatives that can be purchased in stores. Impossible Foods, however, has stayed exclusively in the restaurant scene, but is now making the jump to grocery. This is monumental because many have considered Impossible’s faux meat to be the closest replica out there to the real thing.

Grocery Health Plant-Based Science Technology What's New

Beyond Meat 2.0 Is Coming To Grocery Stores Nationwide This Month

For the past few months, Carl’s Jr. has been the sole purveyor of Beyond Meat’s new 2.0 burger patties, which have gotten rave reviews as to how close they are to real meat. While they’ve been rolling out in restaurants nationwide quietly over the past few months, we now have an idea as to when everyone will be able to cook the 2.0 patty as well.

Starting today, Beyond Meat 2.0 will begin rolling out to grocery stores nationwide, and it should be everywhere by the end of June. The burger patties will be available in new packaging, and ground beef should follow soon afterward.

Photo courtesy of Beyond Meat

The new patties are made with cocoa butter and coconut oil to give it the appearance of marbling, like you would find in ground beef. There’s also improvements made to the color, as apple extract has been added to help it brown without getting too much red from the beets inside. Beyond Meat has also changed the protein to be a complete source, meaning you’ll get all nine essential amino acids from eating this meat in adequate amounts. A combination of rice, pea, and mung bean protein is responsible for that nutritional upgrade.

Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown thinks that this version gets close, but still not all the way to animal meat. “I’m a pretty tough critic,” he told Foodbeast. “My number is gonna be lower than many, but I’d say we’re 65 to 70% of the way there.”

Brown isn’t just going to stop at this 2.0 version, however. He feels that plant meat will go the way of smartphones, in that it both provides more function than animal meat and can be continually upgraded.

“We’ve been consuming meat since prior to being homo sapiens, it’s part of the process of evolution that created the bodies we have and the brains we have,” he says. “I don’t think we’re gonna get it in 10 years, and that’s how long we’ve been working at this, so we need some more time, but I think we’re getting closer and closer.”

While the new 2.0 patties still come at a relatively high cost compared to ground beef, Brown also believes that will change rapidly as his company, which just went public, continues to scale.

“As we start to approach scale, we’ll be able to dramatically underprice animal protein,” he claims. When that does happen, it may only be a matter of time before plant-based meats become the norm.

Grocery Health Plant-Based What's New

A New Rival To Impossible Foods And Beyond Meat Just Launched Nationwide

In the plant-based burger substitutes game, the two dominant companies for a few years now have been Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Their replicas come so close to the original that it’s convincing many to adopt more flexitarian lifestyles.

As those diets become more mainstream, rivals are starting to emerge to the two vegan burger giants, one of which just got their competing product in grocery stores nationwide.

Photo courtesy of Lightlife

These substitutes come courtesy of Lightlife, whose new Lightlife Burger, Sausage, and Ground beef replicas are hitting shelves during this month. While the name may sound new, Lightlife is responsible for some vegan products you may already recognize, including Smart Dogs and Smart Bacon.

Lightlife’s version is more similar to Beyond’s Burger than the Impossible Patty, as it is predominantly made from pea protein and uses other similar ingredients like coconut oil and beet powder. There are some slight differences, as Beyond opts for annatto as an additional color source and Lightlife adds onion and garlic powder into its patties, but the similarities are quite notable.

Foodbeast had the chance to recently try this new faux burger at the recent Natural Products Expo West. Based on texture, taste, and color alone, it’s a strong indicator that the rest of the industry is catching up to what Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have to offer. While it seems like Impossible Foods has the intellectual property advantage with their legume-based heme, pea protein-based burger substitutes more like Beyond Meat are coming fast.

With other companies like Nestle and Tyson Foods also working on their own meat substitutes, plant-based’s cost should plummet as its availability increases to an industrial scale as we close out the decade.

LightLife’s replica can be found in stores like Albertson’s, Vons, Sprouts, and Safeway this month. Other retailers, including Whole Foods, will also start carrying them some time this summer.

Fast Food Plant-Based What's New

Qdoba Is Adding Plant-Based Impossible Meat To All Of Its Restaurants Nationwide

Following a successful test run in Michigan, Qdoba has decided to add plant-based Impossible “meat” to all of its restaurants nationwide.

Photo courtesy of Qdoba

By May 28th, customers at all of Qdoba’s stores will be able to use Impossible Meat to make any of their items. There will also be an official Impossible Bowl and Impossible Taco that you can order.

This rollout is going to start on April 23rd, when locations in Brooklyn, Denver, and Los Angeles will start selling the plant-based meat. All other 730-plus Qdoba restaurants will follow suit afterward.

Qdoba’s version of the plant-based meat consists of pre-seasoned Impossible protein made with tomatoes, garlic, chilis, smoked paprika, and red onions.

The announcement comes on the heels of Del Taco’s own announcement involving plant-based meat. They just confirmed that Beyond Meat will be available in all locations nationwide by April 25th.

That combo of both Del Taco and Qdoba adding plant-based meat means that over 1,200 fast food restaurants will add vegan meat options to their menu over the next six weeks, dramatically increasing the availability of plant-based fast food items.

Grocery Health Opinion Packaged Food Plant-Based

The Best Vegan Replicas Of Animal Products You Can Buy, According To A Meat Eater

I’m certainly not vegan by trade, and have consumed many steaks, nuggets, what have you in my lifetime. However, I’ve also tasted a ton of what’s out there in terms of plant-based alternatives that claim to be substitutes to animal products.

To be frank, some plant-based meats are just downright dreadful to taste, but there are a tastemaking geniuses out there putting together solid replicas to the OG food. In some cases, you could be bold enough to say that it tastes just like the original.

If you are looking to move away of meat, but still yearn for its familiar taste, texture, and aroma, these products are the best way to do it.

Best Burger Patty Replica – Impossible Burger 2.0


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The original Impossible Patty was already pretty close to beef, but their 2.0 version is the best replica of beef in the burger world. The 2.0 is even better in terms of beefy flavor, doesn’t have much of an aftertaste, and comes with an improved formula that delivers on micronutrients like iron. I seriously can’t wait for this to drop in grocery stores, because when it does, it’s going to change how we all buy “beef” as we know it.

Best Fried Chicken Replica – Gardein 7 Grain Crispy Tenders

When it comes to vegan fried chicken products, it’s hard to pick a favorite. A lot of different brands have solid flavors to back them up, and deliver on texture as well. What makes the Gardein tenders stand out, though, is the breading. It tastes like it has more seasoning and aroma behind it than KFC’s famous batter, giving it a strong edge over the rest of the market. The texture isn’t identical to that of chicken, sure, but when it comes to chicken tender replicas, nothing comes close, from a flavor perspective.

Best Egg Replica – Follow Your Heart


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There are really only two competitors in the vegan egg space: JUST Egg and Follow Your Heart. JUST is a great scrambled egg substitute, but it doesn’t have the product versatility that Follow Your Heart’s vegan egg powder does. It’s a little more complicated to set up, as it requires hydrating prior to using, however, the applications it excels in are numerous. I’ve used it to make everything from carbonara-style pasta sauces, to shortbread cookies.

Best Ricotta Cheese Replica – Kite Hill


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Kite Hill’s ricotta cheese impresses in that it mimics the function of ricotta to perfection, something that’s hard to pull off. Ricotta isn’t really a cheese that melts, but it is perfect as the base for lasagnas, cannelloni, stuffing for pancakes, etc. Kite Hill’s product can accomplish all of that easily, making it a great plant-based alternative for those not quite ready to give up some of their Italian favorites.

Best Fish Replica – Gardein


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Fish is one of the trickiest animals to replicate in plant-based form, mostly because of its aroma. While no current vegan product in stores can replicate it, Gardein comes closest in terms of texture, appearance, and taste. This will probably be the best alternative until Impossible Foods comes out with its plant-based fish, which it is rumored to have already cracked the code in terms of flavor.

Best Sliced/Shredded Cheese Replica – Follow Your Heart


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The biggest problem with vegan cheese is that most of it struggles or completely fails to melt, however, Follow Your Heart’s varieties come closest, as seen in the above video. Their American and Pepper Jack slices can retain a somewhat gooey texture and have solid flavor, and the Parmesan actually helps make dishes more creamy rather than just dissolving into a pasta or risotto.

Best Milk Replica – Oatly


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Shoutout to The Boba Guys for exposing how good oat milk can be. In terms of creaminess, no other plant milk can really stack up. It has a neutral flavor that makes it ideal for just about any application, savory or sweet. There’s a reason this brand is virtually always sold out in stores and impossible to track down. Silk has an alternative that just came out if you’re looking for oat milks and can’t get hold of this gold standard.

Best Sausage Replica – Morningstar Farms


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Morningstar Farms is a long-running brand in the world of plant-based products, and their breakfast sausage patties are a big reason for that. They deliver on salty and savory flavor while having a texture akin to that of cooked sausage meat. I’ve been consuming these since I was a kid, and love them just as much as regular breakfast sausage (which I’m a huge fan of). My personal favorite way to eat them? With soy sauce and rice.

Best Shrimp Replica – New Wave Foods


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Vegan shrimp is a new arena companies are starting to innovate in, and the closest reproduction so far comes from New Wave Foods. Their plant-based shrimp is made from algae, and while it still has some grittiness to address from a texture standpoint, its sweetness and flavor are almost exactly to that of shrimp. Their fried shrimp product is spot-on in all regards, and makes for a great substitute for those looking for a vegan shrimp solution.

Best Yogurt Replica – Kite Hill


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Kite Hill impresses in the cultured dairy category, and their almond milk yogurts are no exception. They are arguably just as creamy and tangy as a standard cup of yogurt, and can come in a variety of flavors as well. It’s also a double-health bonus since you also get the probiotics used to culture Kite Hill’s signature, and it’s already ubiquitous enough that you can find it many stores nationwide. Out of all of the plant-based substitutes out there, this is the one you’re most likely to find, and should definitely pick up.

Animals Food Policy Food Trends Products Science

Missouri Becomes The First State To Ban Vegans From Calling Meat Alternatives ‘Meat’

It’s only been a few months since France’s controversial ban on how meat alternatives could be marketed was enacted. Their new law prevents companies from describing something as “meat” that’s predominantly made from plants.

Other factions have taken the opportunity to jump on board with what France is doing, including Missouri, who just became the first U.S. state to impose a similar, more overarching ban.

vegan meat banPhoto: Peter Pham // Foodbeast

Missouri’s new law, which was passed in mid-May and takes effect today, forbids “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested livestock or poultry.” That includes cultured or lab-grown meats on top of those that are predominantly plants. Those who violate the law can be fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned for up to 1 year, according to USA Today.

The language within the new law means that any vegan form of meat can’t be called as such anymore. Titles like vegan meatballs, plant-based bacon, or even lab-grown beef are no longer legal in Missouri, meaning that if those companies want to sell their products there, they have to be renamed if they violate the law.

Behind the law is the Missouri Cattleman’s Association, who backed the bill with reasonings that include protecting local ranchers and preventing customer confusion when shopping.

Interestingly, beef has actually been on an upswing in recent years despite the prevalence of plant-based products. The USDA predicts a record 222.2 pounds of beef and poultry will be consumed by each person in 2018, a number that hasn’t been this high since 2004. It’s also improbable that there’s a ton of consumer confusion when it comes to labeling, as companies clearly state whether their “meat” products are made from plants or not.

Plant-based producers aren’t going quietly in this battle, though, as Tofurky and The Good Food Institute (a plant-based advocacy group) have already launched a lawsuit against the state, saying that the law is an attack on their freedom of speech and commercial speech. They also claim that Missouri’s new legislation is unconstitutional for that reason.

Health Science Video What's New

We Tried The ‘Beyond Sausage’ And Could NOT Tell It Was Vegan

Beyond Meat recently dropped their newest plant-based meat product, the Beyond Sausage, and it’s got the sizzle, snap, texture, and flavor of a real frankfurter.

beyond sausage

The new vegan sausage is made with a combination of rice, pea, and fava beans that supply protein and texture. Trace amounts of beet juice are present to give the links a meaty appearance, and coconut oil supplies the rich fatty notes associated with sausage. To provide a sausage’s signature snap, an algae-based casing is wrapped around the plant-based meat.

The Beyond Sausage is soy, gluten, and GMO-free, and supplies 16 grams of protein per link. A typical 100-gram bratwurst has 12 grams of protein, so in terms of gains, the Beyond measures up to its meaty counterpart.

Foodbeast got the opporutnity to taste Beyond Meat’s link at Würstkuche, a Los Angeles alcove for artisanal sausage. There, the vegan frankfurters come in three flavors: Hot Italian, Sweet Italian, and Bratwurst. Beyond Meat supplies these for the restaurant, who then grills them before serving them up with a variety of toppings, like caramelized onions and peppers.

In terms of flavor, each of the three tasted exactly like the real deal. The aromatic notes of the Bratwurst were present, as was the appropriate heat and herbs for the Hot and Sweet Italian. The snap isn’t as pronounced as that of a traditional sausage, but it’s still satisfying to sink your teeth into. Texture-wise, it’s very close to a real link of meat (although cooked ground meat is a little firmer than the Beyond Sausage). Overall, all of us were quite impressed with how the sausage turned out.

The Beyond Sausage is available at Würstkuche and two locations of Veggie Grill in Los Angeles. All three locations of Rosamunde Sausage Grill in the San Francisco Bay Area also sell it, and Beyond Meat will be announcing more locations around the nation via Instagram as it comes.

Photos by Peter Pham // Foodbeast.