A food critic from the Los Angeles Times did a taste test of 22 fake meats and the results were not pretty.
The products were rated on a curve where the perfect score is achieved by landing in the ballpark of the taste of real meat. For reference, one of the items that received an 8/10, Meati Chicken’s mycelium (fungus mold) chicken, was described as tasting like “bland, overcooked chicken breast that’s been seasoned heavily with salt.” Hardly a glowing review for an 8/10.
Most didn’t even get that. Jenn Harris, who reviewed the meat-like substances, found that most of them were unappetizing. Thirteen of the 22 fake meats listed received a rating of 5/10 or lower.
Here’s what else you need to know:
Beyond Meat Tanked
Based on Harris’s review, it makes sense why Beyond Meat missed its sales targets by millions and saw its stock plummet 13 percent in the latest quarter. The highest-scoring product, Beyond’s breakfast sausage, received a 6.5/10 and was described as having a “thin film” that is “sticky.” The four Beyond products (burger, tenders, breakfast sausage, and bratwurst), the average score was 4.4/10. Harris says of the bratwurst: “It looks like a bratwurst, but that’s where the similarities end.”
The highest-rated products all had one thing in common: They were already seasoned to cover up the taste.
The only product to receive a 9 was the Impossible Sausage. The score was carried by the seasoning, according to Harris. “Hints of garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper — it resembled well-seasoned ground pork.” The same was true of the Impossible burger, of which she wrote: “With the appropriate condiments and a good bun, you could fool a carnivore.” And with ketchup, mustard, mayo, onions, cheese, lettuce, and a bun, you could make a lot of so-so foods taste good.
The only product to receive a 10 was the Good Catch Plant-Based Fish Cakes Thai Style, which Harris admitted, “I can’t remember the last time — or if I’ve ever — eaten a real Thai-style fish cake, but I’d like to think all versions taste similar to this one.”
Even on a Curve, Fake Meat Fails
Even on tilted scales, most of the fake meat products were just not good. The average score for the 22 items tested was 4.5/10. Several items received a 0/10, including Good Catch Fish-Free Tuna Naked in Water, which was described as: “The fermented seaweed odor was hard to stomach and smelled like fish food. And I’m guessing it had the same taste — like something dead in a fish tank.”
MyEast MyBacon was compared to “dog treats” while OmniPork strips’ flavor wasn’t even worthy of a description. Harris simply wrote: no.
Fake meat clearly can’t compete with real meat on flavor. It’s also more costly, lacks key nutrients, and has questionable environmental credentials. All-in-all, the case for fake meat seems to be falling apart.