The past couple of years have been an incredible time for the alternative meat industry, with the likes of the Impossible Burger – the one that 'bleeds', the Beyond Meat burger – the one that probably ranks as the 'meatiest' plant-based burger on the market, and Nestles' Incredible burger, so it’s no surprise that meat eaters are jumping on the plant-wagon to try these products which have boosted the plant-based industry like never before.
But it’s not only the plant-based burgers which are making headlines, 'Cultivated Meat' (also known as lab-grown, cultured or 'Clean Meat') is on the horizon. Scientists are creating meat from real animal cells, but grown in a food production plant – much like a brewery – to mass produce cellular based meat. This production system will revolutionise food – predominantly the meat industry, as we won’t need to rely on meat from suffering animals from factory farming. Though these products are not on the market right now, it’s only a matter of time before we will find them being offered -albeit to a niche market sector within selected restaurants and by selected distributors.
Trend or future?
One of the main questions that arises concerning these types of food innovation: is whether the general public really accepts it and if it’s just a passing phase? There are ample studies which highlight that good quality plant-based burgers are enjoyed by not only vegans and vegetarians, but meat eaters and flexitarians who want to cut down on their meat consumption without compromising on flavor. With sales of meat successors soaring, it’s clear this is more than just a phase. Huge amounts of money are being invested on both plant-based, and cell-based meat industries, hence massive developments are expected in the coming years. With peoples changing eating habits, and more start-up companies working on non-animal-based foods, one can predict that food innovation will only get more sophisticated in time. Large meat producers are also jumping in on the success, with the likes of JBS producing its own vegan burger and Tyson Foods selling meatless protein options.
Plant-based steaks, sausages and burgers have been around for quite some time but were usually dismissed as bland or lacking the same nutritional value, overall look and taste as conventional products. But those days are long gone. Many meat substitutes are made from a variety of different ingredients such as tofu, nuts, grains, seeds or fungi such as mushrooms or mycoprotein. It’s not just soybeans which seem outdated compared to the possibilities of what else can be used.
What other alternative products are available?
From cheese to eggs, burgers to steaks, fishless fish, to dairy-free dessert, there are countless new products, which have recently hit our supermarkets and many others still in the developmental stages. When you see fast food chains and more upscale restaurants as well as supermarkets offering innovative food products free from animal origin, then you know they’re keeping up with consumer’s demands of wanting sustainable and friendlier food options.