We Tried Beyond Meat's New Vegan Sausages: Here's What We Thought

Vegan renditions of the sorts of things vegans avoid — meat, cheese, and eggs — have something of a checkered reputation, perhaps deservedly so. Considering all the delicious plant-based foods that are vegan by nature, it seems a little suspect to desperately mimic meats. If hamburgers are so good in the first place, why are we trying to avoid them?

More importantly for most people, a lot of substitute foods just don't deliver. As the results of the Daily Meal's laughable recent vegan cheese taste test show, people who are inclined to eat animal products are unlikely to be satisfied with an ersatz version.

Thankfully, this doesn't stop creative producers and chefs from trying, and our staff was open-minded when Jesse Denes of Schaller's Stube Sausage Bar, a 3-year-old sausage stand affiliated with the 80-year-old meat market Schaller & Weber on New York City's Upper East Side, dropped by to give us a taste of the Stube's newest offerings: three creations based around Beyond Meat's plant-based sausages.

Schaller's Stube became the first restaurant in the country to offer the three sausages — an original brat, a hot Italian sausage, and a sweet Italian — when they were added to the meat-friendly eatery's menu on February 15. Beyond Meat has enjoyed burgeoning popularity and attracted high-profile investors since introducing its products to Whole Foods stores in 2013, and the Beyond Sausage line is a new innovation made largely from pea protein and coconut oil, with beet juice added for color and an algae-based casing meant to mimic the look and texture of pork sausage.

Denes explained to us that Schaller's options are not designed in opposition to meat, but rather as an option to complement the carnivorous core of the Stube's menu. Only one member of The Daily Meal's staff is currently vegan or vegetarian, so we represent a reasonably challenging test population.

The results were fairly positive. Exhibit A: Denes brought us a lot of sausages, and they nearly all disappeared.

Most editors felt the strong flavors of sausage made the product work fairly well. "I'm German and my family makes sausage on the reg," one taster explained. "It's easy to hide flavors in a lot of spices, which sausage often has anyway."

Denes' accompaniments — kraut and mustard for the brat, peppers and onions for the sweet Italian, and cucumber, cilantro, jalapeño, and a bánh mì-style creamy sauce on the hot Italian — were spot-on, and each sausage was served on a delicious pretzel roll.

The most common qualm involved the algae-based casing, which seemed oddly loose. "I miss the snap of real sausage here," one of our editors explained, and others felt the sausage overall was a bit too "mushy" or even "grainy."

Not everyone was on board, of course. One traditionalist gave up part-way through eating, explaining that "the hurdle of fake meat masquerading as real meat is hard to get over."

While seemingly few omnivores would want to permanently go "Beyond Meat" at this point, the company's new sausages fit nicely beside meat as another option, especially in Schaller's Stube's tasty preparations.

If these sausages sound like too much of a hurdle for you, take a look at our list of America's 75 best hot dogs.