Fake Meat: New Advances in this Industry
New advances in the (Fake) meat industry
One of the problems with meat is that it tastes so delicious. Yes it is true that eating meat may put you on the path to a heart attack. And yes it is true that factory farms severely torture animals. The fact is that the production of a single hamburger patty requires more water than two weeks of showers. Unfortunately, for many people there is nothing as yummy as a juicy burger.
A revolution is unfolding in the food world, resulting in the first alternatives to meat that taste like the real thing. Veggie burgers used to seem like a blend of tofu and cardboard, but in the last few years scientists have come up with first rate faux chicken strips and beef crumbles.
I don’t think a fake sirloin steak is in the near future, but scientists feel that they can get there. Very soon you may be able to walk down the meat aisle of your supermarket and see plant-based “meat”, even leaking what appears to be blood.
These meat alternatives could end up being less expensive than real meat. Buyers won’t just be vegans but carnivores looking for healthy food that tastes good and is nutritious.
If the alternatives to meat are tasty, healthier, cheaper, better for the environment and pose fewer ethical challenges, the result may be a revolution in the human diet. Cattle farmers mat have to switch over to plant-based “meat” crops.
Dr. Joseph D.Puglisi, a Stanford University professor of structural biology is advising a company Beyond Meat, a start-up in the meat alternative business with investments from Bill Gates and other CEO’s from Google and Amazon. So far the sales of Beyond Meat have been doubling each year.
The founder of the company, Ethan Brown, found himself deeply concerned about climate change after working eight years in a company making hydrogen fuel cells. He read that livestock cause more greenhouse emission gases than the entire transportation industry and he decided to focus more on clean food production.
He came across two University of Missouri scientists who had figured out how to realign plant fibers into something more like meat and began working with them. He founded Beyond Meat in 2009, and Whole Foods helped the company develop imitation chicken strips that were its first product.
At the beginning of 2013, its products were in 360 stores in the US.; now they are in 7500 and will soon be in Walmarts as well. Beyond Meat is aiming to get their products into pizza and other fast- food restaurants so they can target the average consumer.
One advantage is health. Beyond Meat’s best-selling product, the Beast Burger is loaded with protein, vitamins, antioxidants and Omega-3’s. The disadvantageous is that it still does not taste like meat.
Most chicken and beef crumbles are triumphs when mixed with other foods (Whole Foods once swapped real curried chicken salad with fake curried chicken salad and no one noticed for 2 days). But so far, Beyond Meat’s meatballs and Beast Burger are very poor tasting.
Moreover, the price is still higher than real meat. But hopefully taste and price will improve over the next few years and there are now competing companies for this market. One of these is called Impossible Foods, founded by a Stanford University biochemist, Patrick Brown, and there is a tremendous amount of research is this field today.
Due to shrinking resources on this planet, especially water, I think that the optimal approach to food, for health and ethical reasons may be vegetarianism. But the average Canadian still consumes close to half a pound of meat a day, so it will take a large scale impact on our food supply and resources before most of us make that quantum leap.
I am not a vegetarian because I eat mostly chicken and fish and very rarely do I have cravings for red meat. If I can eat a juicy burger, even if it’s not real meat, while boosting my health, helping the environment and avoiding the brutalization of farm animals, then I’m in.