Big Taste – No Cattle
I love a good hamburger – but with each juicy, sizzling bite comes some concerns.
- The quality. What is really ground up in the meat?
- The hormones and toxins. What has the cow been eating?
- The environment. Beef cattle gobble up water and add to greenhouse gas pollution.
- The slaughter. My inner-Buddhist hates to think of animals being killed.
Millennials are both driving the demand for healthy, sustainable meat – and they are also creating it with innovative companies. There are a few high quality “meat alternative” companies which are worth a taste. And no, I am not talking about tofu burgers.
I spent an afternoon with one of the idealistic founders of Impossible Foods when he was in NY for the official first launch of an Impossible Burger at Momofuku. A team of farmers, scientists and chefs took five years to create a burger with all the taste, texture and aroma of ground beef – without the cow.
“Compared to cows, the Impossible Burger uses 95% less land, 74% less water, and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s 100% free of hormones, antibiotics, and artificial ingredients.” From Impossible Foods
The do-gooder in you will appreciate the sustainability and health virtues of Impossible Burgers, but your inner-carnivore still wants flavor and satisfaction. Impossible Burgers are made of wheat protein, coconut oil and potato protein. They contain no cholesterol. The ‘secret’ ingredient is heme, a component of hemoglobin, which exists in small quantities in plants, but is abundant in meat. Impossible Burger takes heme from plants, ferments it and puts it into their burgers. The result is a juicy ‘meat’ with protein and flavor, but without the cow.
You can bite into an Impossible Burger in restaurants in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Texas. The burgers are not sold in retail stores yet.
*September, 2018 Update; Impossible Foods’ are now served in 3000 restaurants in the US, Hong Kong and Macau. You’ll find more interesting information in their Impact Statement for 2018.
You can cook a plant-based burger at home. Beyond Meat ‘meat’ is available in the meat sections of select Fred Meyer, King Soopers, Kroger, Ralphs, Safeways, Vons, Albertsons and Whole Foods. It has loads of pea protein and no soy, gluten or GMOs. Beets make the burgers red. Bill Gates was an early investor and food giant, Tyson Foods, has a stake.
Beyond Meat offers fortified burgers with extra protein. They call them the Beast Burgers and Beastly Sliders. In the frozen aisle, you will find a variety of Beyond Meat ‘chicken’ strips and ground ‘beef’ for tacos and spaghetti sauce.
Memphis Meat is creating beef, chicken and duck from animal cells. They do not slaughter animals. They harvest cells from living animals and grow the cells in water, vitamins, proteins and sugars. The cells are converted to muscle tissue. The result is meat that’s molecularly identical to what you buy at grocery store. Except this meat requires substantially less water, energy, and land – and it contains no antibiotics and no contaminants.
You cannot buy their product yet, but with venture capital funding from DFJ (venture fund), Bill Gates, Richard Branson and agricultural giant Cargill; look for Memphis meatballs to appear soon. They claim that they will deliver real meat – without the animal – to the table in 2021.
From Memphis Meats…
“We love meat. However, the way conventional meat is produced today creates challenges for the environment, animal welfare and human health. With global consumers spending nearly $1 trillion per year on meat, and demand for meat expected to double in the coming decades, one thing is clear: we need a better way to feed a hungry world.
That’s why we started Memphis Meats. Our goal is simple: to change the way meat gets to your plate. We’re developing a way to produce real meat from animal cells, without the need to feed, breed and slaughter actual animals. We expect our products to be better for the environment (requiring up to 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, land and water than conventionally-produced meat), the animals and public health. And most importantly, they’re delicious.”
In case you are in Europe, and want to explore another competitor, Mosa Meat, based in the Netherlands, is in the race to create cultured meat for the table.
You need to know some new words if you want to keep up with the foodies…
Flexitarian. Semi-vegetarian people who want a primarily plant-based diet.
Clean Meat is also called cultured meat. It refers to the process of culturing animal cells outside of the animal – resulting to 100% meat without antibiotics or any contaminants likes E. Coli or Salmonella.
You will need some lettuce to put on your hamburger!
For more food innovation, check out this ASE article on energy efficient, indoor farming – without pesticides of chemicals.