Beyond Meat takes on the holy grail: bacon

Illustration for article titled Beyond Meat takes on the holy grail: bacon
Photo: Candy_Vandy (iStock)

As Beyond Meat’s stock continues to skyrocket, and ever more restaurants embrace the company’s meatless alternatives to burgers and sausages, it’s now in the position of having to race against not only its own development cycles, but rival companies working on new plant-based processes as well.

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To that end, Beyond is looking to take on a mainstay of red-blooded American food culture: bacon. Bloomberg reports that while there’s currently no set date for a launch, the company is already working on its pork substitute (fake-on?); “Chief Executive Officer Ethan Brown said in an interview that the product is improving as it goes through development.”

This news has left the Takeout staff with several questions, ones which we’re avidly curious to see Beyond address. After all, unlike the composite meat of ground beef or sausage, synthesizing bacon will require the replication of several different but key components:

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  • How do you simultaneously mimic the dual textures of a bacon slice’s fat and meat?
  • When cooking it, what gives it the proper flavor without bacon grease?
  • Will customers be able to cook it to their desired level of chewy or crisp?
  • Isn’t turkey bacon already a meatless substitute?

Given that Beyond’s process still seems to be in the developmental phase, there’s plenty of time for all of those questions and more to be addressed. Meanwhile, all of the people who’ve turned bacon into a garishly demonstrative personal identity over the years just began to sweat, and this time, it’s not the meat that’s causing it.

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DISCUSSION

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Firstly, turkey bacon is not meatless bacon, it’s baconless meat.

Morningstar Farms makes a vegetarian bacon strip product. It’s not super great, but it does one thing right: it’s smokey. Turns out you can get a lot of goodwill by just being smokey. Those cheap baco bits that some folks put on salads? Soy crunchies with smokey flavor.

I predict this is not going to be a realm that vegetarian foods can crack. Our bacon is side bacon from the belly, streaked in fat with simple muscle, it’s a singular thing that won’t be able to fake with amalgamated parts. The flavor is easy, the texture may be impossible.