Fake Chicken Fools Food Critics, Sells Out Stores

New York Times food critic Mark Bittman had no idea that the chicken burrito he was eating wasn’t actually chicken at all. In a March 11 column, Bittman said he never tasted a fake meat that so accurately replicated the real thing.

The new chicken substitute, known as Beyond Meat, has been winning the praise of other vegans and health conscious shoppers as well and is now one of the hottest food items in San Francisco, ABC News reported. In the city’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood, the epicenter of many food trends, a Whole Foods store sold out of a week’s supply of the meat in just two days.

“We’re a little taken aback,” says the chain’s Northern California coordinator for prepared foods, Mathew Mestemacher, in an interview with ABC News. “The response is overwhelming.”

Whole Foods has been selling the product in a chicken salad for $12 to $14 a pound, but the store’s representatives said they soon intend to sell it on its own.

The company that makes the faux chicken, also known as Beyond Meat, has been working on other fake meats as well and plans to release beef, pork and fish products sometime soon. As for the chicken, food aficionados say there is no other fake product quite like it.

“I’ve eaten a lot of fake meats, and you can always taste the science,” said Los Angeles resident and vegan Ashley Wilson in an interview with ABC News. “(Beyond Meat is) clean; there’s no weird, processed taste.”

She said unlike most other fake meats, the texture of this fake chicken is spot on—it pulls apart and is stringy just like real chicken. Wilson said she’ll even recommend it to meat-eating friends.

Bittman noted that the fake chicken could also cut down on tainted meat and cut down on the number of meat processing plants, which Human Rights Watch has called the most dangerous factory job in America.