by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Meat substitutes

Oct 17 2019

Plant-based meat and dairy: recent innovations

I’ve been collecting items related to plant-based meat and dairy foods from the various newsletters I read.  I am having a hard time keeping up.  This is a super-hot topic with investors pouring money into these products.

Things are moving so quickly that Food Dive has established a plant-protein tracker to help readers keep up.

Even a quick scan of just the titles of these articles will make clear just how hot this area is.

Let’s start with the in-fighting.

Here’s what he’s talking about.  I’ll bet they don’t agree.

As for what the meat industry thinks of all this…

And the New York Times’ take on Big Meat’s getting in on this action.

Sep 24 2019

New report predicts collapse of dairy and cattle industries by 2030

A group called RethinkX has produced an attention-getting report: “Rethinking Food and Agriculture 2020-2030.”

Its press release argues that new lab-based technology will thoroughly disrupt dairy and cattle farming.

By 2030, the dairy and cattle industries will have collapsed as animal-derived foods are replaced by modern equivalents that are higher quality and cost less than half as much to produce. The rest of the livestock industry will suffer a similar fate.

Furthermore, the new products will be “ever cheaper and superior – more nutritious, healthier, better tasting, more convenient, and more varied.”

The press release says that via a process of “death by a thousand cuts,”

different parts of the cow (meat, milk, collagen, and leather) and the markets they serve will be disrupted separately and concurrently by different technologies and business-model innovations that overlap, reinforce, and accelerate one another…The key to understanding the disruption of the cow is that PF [precision fermentation] only needs to disrupt 3.3% of the milk bottle – the key functional proteins – to bring about the collapse of the entire cow milk industry.

The report predicts that by 2030:

  • The number of cows in the U.S. will have fallen by 50%.
  • Production volumes of the U.S. beef and dairy industries and their suppliers will be cut by more than half.
  • The market for ground beef by volume will have shrunk by 70%, the steak market by 30% and the dairy market by almost 90%.
  • The U.S. dairy and cattle industries will have collapsed, leaving only local specialty farms in operation.
  • The volume of crops needed to feed cattle inthe U.S. will fall by 50%…causing cattle feed production revenues, at current prices, to fall by more than 50%.
  • Half of the 1.2 million jobs in U.S. beef and dairy production (including supply chain), along with their associated industries, will be lost

Really?  Is the technology that good, approved, and acceptable?

It’s hard to take this seriously at this point, but the trends are worth watching.

I’m wondering what the cattle and dairy trade groups and lobbyists have to say about all this.

 

Jun 21 2019

Weekend reading: plant-based and cell-cultured meat alternatives

I can hardly keep up with what’s happening with plant-based and cultured-meat products.  Here’s my latest collection from various newsletters and other sources.  Take a look at the ones that interest you.  This is a quick way to get a broad picture of where this industry is headed and how these products are viewed.

Bottom line: meat alternatives are big business.

Apr 10 2019

Burger King to serve Impossible Burger?

I thought this was an April Fool joke, but apparently it’s for real.  According to The Guardian (and many other sources), Burger King will be serving this plant-based meat alternative.

Much has been said in favor of and opposed to the Impossible Burger.

I give Tamar Haspel credit for the most cogent comment:

Mar 7 2019

Plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy: a round up

I’ve been collecting items about plant-based “meat” and “dairy foods.”  These are a hot topic, with new announcements almost daily.

Here’s what FoodNavigator-USA.com has collected in a Special Edition

And here are a bunch I’ve picked up here and there:

I will be keeping an eye on this area, where a lot seems to be happening, and fast.

May 22 2018

Plant-based meat: the cosmetic color problem

Plant-based meats are touted as the technological solution to the health and environmental problems caused by excessive meat-eating.   Venture capital is flooding to what seems like a hot new market.

One objection to these products is that they are heavily processed and contain long lists of processing ingredients (my emphasis on the color ingredients).

The Beyond Burger: pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, water, yeast extract, maltodextrin, natural flavors, gum arabic, sunflower oil, salt, succinic acid, acetic acid, non-GMO modified food starch, cellulose from bamboo, methylcellulose, potato starch, beet juice extract (for color), ascorbic acid (to maintain color), annatto extract (for color), citrus fruit extract (to maintain quality), vegetable glycerin.

The Impossible Burger: water, textured wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein, natural flavors, 2% or less of: leghemoglobin (heme protein), yeast extract, salt, soy protein isolate, konjac gum, xanthan gum, thiamin (vitamin B1), zinc, niacin, vitamin B6, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12.

I was intrigued by this article from Food Navigator about the color problem.  Plant-based meats are naturally an unappealing grey and need color to make them appear palatable. What to do?

According to botanical extract supplier, Naturex, whose portfolio includes colouring foods, plant-based meat analogues are “a booming sector​” and, with colour one of the most important factors in determining a food’s appeal, manufacturers are interested in natural ways to colour meat alternatives.

Category manager for natural colours at Naturex Nathalie Pauleau said that carmine, derived from cochineal insects, is the most frequently used colour for real meat applications but cannot be used in plant based products because it is not vegetarian.

Vegetable-based alternatives include beetroot or red radish concentrates that deliver good colouring results, and in Europe, both can be classified as colouring foods​she said.

But there are big problems with color stability under conditions of heat and high or low pH.  If manufacturers want a browner color, carmelized sugar sometimes works.

As for the “bleeding” burger produced by Impossible Foods: this is

a plant-based burger made from the standard base ingredients of wheat, potato and soy protein. The addition of its IP-protected ingredient, leghemoglobin, however, means that the burger’s label lists added flavours but no colours.  Leghemoglobin is a heme molecule similar to myoglobin and haemoglobin that make blood and meat red but is found in the roots of nitrogen-fixing plants such as soy, meaning it is vegetarian-friendly. When added to the burger, it looks like blood.

And how do these taste?  Not bad, by most reports.

But one of my personal food rules is never to eat anything artificial.  These products are off my dietary radar.

Oct 7 2016

Weekend reading: why we love eating meat

Marta Zaraska.  Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat.  Basic Books, 2016.

If this were just another diatribe against meat-eating, I would not have bothered to read it but this book is much more interesting than that.  The Polish-Canadian journalist Marta Zaraska describes herself as a “sloppy vegetarian,” someone who doesn’t eat much meat but

can’t seem to completely let go of meat either.  There is something in it—in its cultural, historic, and social appeal, or maybe in its chemical composition—that keeps luring me back.

And that’s what this book is about: the cultural, historic, and social (and maybe even the chemical) appeal of eating meat.  Zaraska identifies the reasons—the hooks—of this appeal, linked as they are to genetics, culture, history, and the politics of the meat industry and government.

Although Zaraska clearly thinks eating less meat would be good for health, animal welfare, and the environment, that’s not really the book’s goal.  Instead, it’s to understand why most people don’t want to be vegetarian, let alone vegan, and why even small steps in that direction are worth taking.

What’s impressive about this book is the friendliness, human understanding, and charm of its writing, and the global scope of the interviews on which it draws (full disclosure: it briefly quotes my work).

A couple of scientific points didn’t ring right (beans do have methionine, just not as much as is needed), and I’m not sure that mock meats, meat substitutes, and edible insects will satisfy the “hooks” she describes so well, but these are minor quibbles.

Aug 25 2010

Do we need meat substitutes?

I’m traveling, which means it’s time to catch up on saved posts.  Here’s one from FoodNavigator.com that I’ve been wanting to share.  It’s a collection of articles on meat substitutes.

Meat substitutes?  I don’t know how you feel about this sort of thing, but any kind of substitute violates one of my food rules: “Never eat anything artificial.”

Never mind.  Meat substitutes are the ways food technologists respond to nutritionists’ advice to eat less meat.

Here is what FoodNavigator.com has to say about this approach: