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I’m visiting New York this week, and as I was walking through the Financial District yesterday trying to get my bearings without head butting people walking upstream, I saw it. A sign from Dunkin Donuts for The Beyond Breakfast Sandwich. Great taste, plant-based and made with 10 grams of protein.
I had just had lunch mere minutes ago, but I had to try it. So I ducked in and ordered.
The first thing I noticed was how hard Dunkin’ is pushing the sandwich. It’s one of the most prominently featured menu items, and all of the employees were sporting t-shirts featuring the sandwich.
I paid my $4.78 (including tax) and unwrapped the sandwich. It looked kind of unremarkable — but no more so than a typical fast food sausage-egg-and-cheese breakfast muffin. However, the sausage patty was noticeably thicker than a typical meat one. The texture was spongy, similar to the Beyond burger, with a bit more chew. It was a grey color that resembled sausage more than the bright pink interior of a cooked Beyond burger resembles that of a medium-rare beef burger.
As far as taste goes, however, it was spot on. The patty was lightly spiced, salty, and fatty. True, this is coming from a vegetarian. So in the pursuit of journalistic excellence, I shared the sandwich with a carnivorous friend who said that if she didn’t know, she probably wouldn’t be able to tell that it wasn’t made of meat. “I think it’s better than the burger,” she said. “More similar to the product it’s imitating.”
Despite how hard Dunkin’ was pushing the sandwich, I didn’t see anyone else order it while I was there. Fair — it was 12 PM, and the sandwich is definitely more breakfast fare. I asked my cashier if people liked the Beyond Sausage Sandwich, and she said it was slowly getting more popular and that orders had really picked up over the past few weeks.
Dunkin’ is clearly counting on its popularity to keep rising. This week the chain announced it was rolling out the sandwich to all of its locations across the country starting next month. Though that’s no guarantee that they won’t pull them off menus at any time, like Tim Horton’s did in Canada.
Selfishly, I hope that doesn’t happen. I really enjoyed the Beyond Sausage sandwich and think it’s an important step for Beyond — and plant-based meat in general — to break into the fast-food breakfast space. Next up, maybe they’ll swap out the egg for a JUST Egg patty. Now that would definitely make it impossible for me to walk by a Dunkin’ without stopping in for a snack.
Gene editing our way to more protein
In this newsletter we talk a lot about alternative proteins meant to imitate (or replicate) meat, dairy, or eggs. It can be easy to forget about all of the other protein sources that might be sitting right under our noses.
Literally — look down at your shirt. This month the FDA approved a new gene-edited cotton plant whose seeds, which are protein-rich but typically contain a dangerous toxin, are safe to eat.
I know, lots of folks out there are GMO haters. But let’s put that can of worms aside for a moment and just think about the potential of gene-editing technologies — like the oft-mentioned CRISPR — to open up brand new protein sources. Or perhaps just make ones we already love more plentiful and better for the planet.
What other overlooked proteins are right under our noses?
Protein ’round the web
- One Pizza Hut location in Arizona will be testing out a new pizza topped with plant-based meat from Morningstar Farms’ Incogmeato line.
- Hawaiian gas station and convenience chain Minit Stop will swap in Impossible Foods’ “beef” for all of its traditional beef products (h/t VegNews).
- Swiss startup Planted, which makes plant-based chicken, has raised 7 million Swiss francs (~$7 million USD), according to Crunchbase.
- The Good Food Institute has awarded $4.5 million to accelerate research in plant-based and cultured meat in 2019.
That’s it from me this week! I’m off to get another Beyond Sausage Sandwich because… research?