The faux-meat industry is officially booming. After growing 23 percent last year, according to the Good Food Institute, retail sales are expected to approach $1 billion by the end of 2019. (That’s not including the burgeoning world of lab-grown meat, where companies have amassed millions in funding even without any products available to consumers.) This is all welcome news for athletes who avoid meat and anyone seeking additional sources of nonanimal protein. “The next generation of plant-based meats are designed for meat eaters,” says Caroline Bushnell, the Good Food Institute’s associate director of corporate engagement. “These businesses are reimagining what meat can be and are delivering in a big way on the single most important factor in food choice: taste.” Whether you’re a longtime vegan or a curious carnivore, these are some of the most delicious options you can buy.
Impossible Burger (price pending)
When Impossible Foods launched its heavily buzzed about burger in 2016, it shook up the general perception of meat-free patties: it sizzled, smelled, seared, and even bled like real meat. Last January, the company reintroduced the Impossible Burger, made with soy protein instead of wheat and lighter in calories, fat, and salt. It’s currently available only in restaurants but will hit grocery stores this year.
Lightlife Burger ($6)
Lightlife, which since 1979 has been producing tempeh-based products like Fakin’ Bacon strips, is now upping its meatless-burger game. Made with pea protein, virgin coconut oil, and beet powder for bloody redness, this burger’s truly beefy flavor is unlocked after being charred on a grill.
No Evil Foods Comrade Cluck ‘No Chicken’ ($8)
No Evil Foods crafts its products from ingredients like chickpea flour and vital wheat gluten. Try this poultry alternative in potpies, buffalo dip, or chicken salad. Bonus: the outer packaging is 100 percent compostable.
Beyond Meat Sausage ($9)
Combining pea, rice, and fava protein, these sausages—available in Brat Original and Hot Italian—are convincing and versatile. Crumble them into a breakfast casserole, broil them with peppers, or throw them on the grill and top with ketchup. Their vibrant pink color comes from beet juice, and the casing is derived from algae. Best of all, each link delivers a whopping 16 grams of protein.
Upton’s Naturals Bar-B-Que Jackfruit ($5)
With its mild taste and chewy texture, jackfruit is an ideal canvas for sauce and spices. Upton’s Naturals’ heat-and-eat Bar-B-Que Jackfruit features tomato paste, molasses, vinegar, and chili powder, making it a tasty meat substitute for stir-fries, tacos, and southern-style sandwiches.
Sunflower Family Organic Sunflower Haché ($7.50)
Founded in Germany, Sunflower Family offers vegan meals made from textured sunflower protein, including a hash that can be substituted for ground beef. Mold it into burgers, meat loaf, or meatballs, or use it in lasagna or dumplings.
Good Catch Plant-Based Tuna ($5)
To achieve the texture of tuna without any real fish, Good Catch relies on a blend of six legumes and algal oil. This also provides DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, plus an ocean flavor.