Visiting the Grocery Outlet in October, I was most excited to find Beyond Meat sausages on sale in their freezer – the Sweet Italian flavor of Beyond Sausage, which was new to me. I’ve tried their Hot Italian and their Brat Original sausages and the latter have become a regular buy for me – semi-regular, as they’re usually priced a little over $9 at Whole Foods. So, seeing the new flavor of Beyond Sausage at the Grocery Outlet for $3.49, I bought eight packs – just enough to fill the remaining space in my freezer! I don’t normally buy such large quantities of anything but its lockdown (the excuse for everything, ha ha) and it’s nice to have a change of pace from avocado toast for lunch.
Is Beyond Sausage still available at the Grocery Outlet?
First off, I don’t know if you’re going to be lucky enough to find the Beyond Sausages at your Grocery Outlet now that it’s November. But there’s a reasonable chance as this isn’t the first time that I’ve found Beyond Meat products in one of my local Bay Area (California) stores. Previously I found meatballs from Beyond Meat at the Alameda store, if my fuzzy lockdown brain recalls correctly. This blog is just getting started so I’m a little behind schedule for now, but I’m hoping in future to post reviews of products very soon after I find them. The Grocery Outlet isn’t like a regular store – popular products will sometimes sell out over a few weeks. But don’t despair – they often return!
How to cook Beyond Sausage (Sweet Italian)
Since I had so many sausages to experiment with, I discovered a few things to improve them. At first I wasn’t enjoying the Sweet Italian sausages as much as the Original Brat that I normally buy. They tasted too charred on the outside, too undone on the inside and a little too sweet overall. Three things helped to make them a lot better:
- Cook them at a lower temperature than you would expect. Beyond Meat sausages are made with coconut oil, which has a lower smoke point than most other oils. So, the key thing is to cook them on a medium heat – if your kitchen smells smoky (or of charred food) after you’ve finished cooking then the cooking temperature was probably too high. I cook mine for about 8-10 minutes in a non-stick pan coated with a very small amount of olive oil, flipping them once, which brings me to the next point.
- Split the sausages down the middle before cooking. This may sound wrong as the sausages have a casing to keep them intact (it’s made from alginate, which comes from seaweed) and I didn’t need to split the Original Brat sausages that I normally eat. But when I cooked the Sweet Italian sausages whole, the inside of the sausage seemed a little undercooked to me and I didn’t like the pinkish color. So now I split them down the middle, lengthwise (don’t worry, they won’t fall apart!) and cook them on the round (casing) side first and then flip them to cook the open flat side.
- Eat these with fixings like lettuce and tomato. Because of their slight sweetness, the sausages work much better when you pair them with any of the typical fixings like lettuce, tomato, or avocado. Typically, I toast a little bread (whole-wheat walnut or sourdough work well), butter it (optional!) and then stack lettuce, tomato, salt and pepper and half a sausage (split down the middle before cooking). Because they contain a fair amount of fat it’s really good to pair them with healthy veggies, both for taste and health 🙂
Now that I’ve discovered a good way to cook and eat these, I’m super-happy that I have 5 more packs in the freezer! They aren’t quite as good as the Original Brat, in my opinion, but they’re pretty close – and at around one-third of the Whole Foods price, I’m totally sold on them. Now let’s take a look at how they rate ethically….
Ethical rating for Beyond Sausage (Sweet Italian)
I’ve previously written about the sustainability of Beyond Meat on The Green Stars Project, so please take a look at that post for more information, including detail on a life-cycle assessment (LCA) of peas versus other protein such as meat. As you probably know, the main ingredient of Beyond Meat products such as Beyond Sausage is pea protein, usually followed by coconut oil and sunflower oil.
Overall, I think that Beyond Sausage deserves 4.5 Green Stars (out of 5) for social and environmental impact, based on these factors:
- It’s a vegan product that avoids hardship to animals
- Life-cycle assessments show that peas are far more sustainable than meat
- A 2018 Oxford University study looked at various metrics such as carbon and pollution footprints and land use. Peas (and other legumes) scored really well on all fronts.
- Legumes generally require far less fertilizer as these plants can fix their own nitrogen
- Packaging for Beyond Sausage is impressive – a cardboard tray (which I can recycle as the sausage casing prevents them from staining the cardboard) and a thin film with a label.
- Room for improvement: I’d like to see Beyond Meat use organic sunflower oil, as almost all conventional sunflower crops are treated with neonics, insecticides that harm bees.
- I’d also like to see corporate sustainability reporting from Beyond Meat and more information on ingredient sourcing. Especially now that it’s a huge public company.
I had been debating whether to do Green Stars ratings only in whole units, or to allow half-stars also. In my original post on Beyond Meat, I awarded the sausages 5/5 Green Stars. Now, I’m thinking that it’s useful to be able to score in half-star increments as it allows more nuance – in this case I’m dropping half a Green Star as a way of telling Beyond Meat that I’d like them to use organic sunflower oil in their products and to publish more information on sustainability (e.g., a CSR report).
Overall, though, I think Beyond Sausage is one of the most ethical meat substitutes around.
Summary scores (out of 5) for Beyond Sausage Sweet Italian:
- 4 gold stars for quality and value
- 4.5 green stars for social and environmental impact
If you have a different opinion, please share your rating! Until next time, stay safe and don’t panic 🙂