The rise of mock meat and plant-based alternatives
Driven by the rise of veganism, plant-based protein has evolved way beyond the commonplace bag of Quorn, and it’s set to become even bigger business this year. Food innovation is engineering sustainable ingredients to not only taste like meat, but also look and have the texture of everything from sausages to pulled pork, burgers and even steak, making it difficult to tell the difference.
UK brand Moving Mountains created its meat-free B12 Burger with the intention of making a patty that “tastes, looks, smells and chews like animal meat”. You can dine out on it at various restaurants across the capital, including Dirty Bones. Meanwhile US-based Impossible Foods has gone one step further, creating “bleeding” burgers using the plant molecule heme that can be found inside every living thing and is responsible for blood’s red hue.
There are also a growing number of vegan meat options on supermarket shelves. Tempeh is an excellent source of protein made from cooked and fermented soya beans moulded into oblong patties that can be sliced and fried or boiled. Seitan, a lesser known meat alternative, is made from wheat gluten. Its chewy, stringy make up gives it a closer resemblance to meat than many other products and it’s likened to duck in both appearance and texture.
BEAN THERE, DONE THAT
The most recognisable of all meat alternatives, though, is the classic tofu. However, progress in the production of this bean curd means that variations such as faux chicken are practically indistinguishable from the real thing. And due to its realistic pulled pork-like quality, jackfruit is fast-becoming one of the most popular choices with both chefs and home cooks. The largest tree-borne fruit in the world, it’s rich in Vitamin C and packed with fibre.
Although lower in protein than a lot of other meat alternatives, it is particularly delicious when combined with flavours commonly associated with meat, such as BBQ and jerk sauces. Combine it with tacos and avocado for a winning combination.
The progress made in non-animal proteins means you can now enjoy meat-free Monday pretty much every day of the week.