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The new Beyond Meat burgers. Leanna Garfield/Tech Insider

When Beyond Meat, a company that produces plant-based alternatives to animal proteins, claimed it invented a vegetarian burger that tastes like beef, it sounded too good to be true.

But the Beyond Burger has grown in popularity since it was first sold at a Whole Foods in Boulder, Colorado last year. Since then, the product has become available in 350 more Whole Foods locations, and 280 Safeways. In July, it came to eight of burger chain BurgerFi’s 101 locations.

Now it is launching in over 600 stores owned by Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the United States, across 13 states. The rollout begins Thursday, and will more than triple Beyond Meat’s distribution of the burger once it’s complete.

Each package of Beyond Burgers comes with two four-ounce patties. It’s usually sold for $5.99 — almost twice the price of beef per ounce.

When I opened the package, the patties looked exactly like raw beef — but they’re made mainly from pea protein, yeast extract, and coconut oil. They contain beet juice, which gives them a reddish color.

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Leanna Garfield/Tech Insider

According to the nutrition label on the back, the Beyond Burger has more protein, sodium, and calories than a normal burger.

When I cooked my first patty, I threw it on a small skillet without oil. Unlike most vegetarian burgers I’ve tried, the Beyond Burger sizzled like meat. It didn’t smell like beef, however — more like a vegetable I couldn’t identify. Peas perhaps?

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About three minutes later, I flipped the patty over, and it was slightly browned.

After waiting about three more minutes, the…