“It’s more like meat than anything I’ve ever seen that wasn’t meat.”
June 2, 2016 6:29 PM   Subscribe

A meatless burger that bleeds vegetable juices just debuted at Whole Foods [The Washington Post]
Brown left the energy industry and founded a start-up called Beyond Meat in 2009, building on the work of University of Missouri food scientist Fu-hung Hsieh, a pioneer in “high moisture extrusion of fibrous meat analog” — making fake meat taste more like flesh, in other words. Beyond Meat achieved early hype with its Beyond Chicken strips, designed to obliterate memories of limp tofu dogs or crumbly veggie burgers. Observing the strips shred into ligament-like strands at Beyond Meat’s factory in Columbus, Mo., Food Network star and author Alton Brown remarked to Wired in 2013, “It’s more like meat than anything I’ve ever seen that wasn’t meat.”
- Plant-Based, the Beyond Burger Aims to Stand Sturdy Among Meat [The New York Times]
Companies making plant-based alternatives to a variety of animal proteins are popping up everywhere. Jars of Just Mayo, an eggless spread made by Hampton Creek, now sit near Hellmann’s, and nut-based milks now account for almost 10 percent of the $20 billion milk market. Sales of products incorporating plant proteins grew 8.7 percent from 2014 to 2015, while overall sales of food products grew 3.7 percent, according to Spins, which collects data on retail sales for the natural and specialty products industries. Tom Rich, vice president of purchasing and distribution in the Denver region of Whole Foods Market where the Beyond Burger will first be sold, says there is a growing interest in alternative protein sources.
- General Mills Exec 'Bullish' on Plant Proteins, Eyes Algae and Even Crickets [New York Business Journal]
“It’s an extraordinarily good time to be getting into the food technology of plant proteins,” he said, pointing out that Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt cited it as one of the top six innovations that would improve human life by tenfold. One issue, until and unless the plant-based meat category scales, is cost.“We tie it to beef parity because we believe these emerging protein types will be cost-competitive with the other meat,” Zik said. “The question is how long will it take?” Smith said that, right now, affordability is also a “significant hurdle,” for General Mills. “We would adopt more alternative protein systems if they were more in line with conventional proteins,” she said. “Right now they are more expensive.”
- The Future Will Be Full of Lab Grown Meat [Gizmodo]
In 2013, the world’s first lab-grown burger was unveiled to the world. It carried a $330,000 price tag, and apparently, it wasn’t all that tasty. But the scientists behind the idea have been hard at work, and artificial meat that’s both cost-effective and palatable may arrive sooner than we think. It’s not just cow-free beef burgers on the future menu — several groups around the world are attempting to clone chicken breasts and fish fillets, as well. Why do scientists want to grow meat in vats instead of on animals, and how close are we to actually accomplishing it?
- Alternative Proteins to Claim a Third of the Market by 2054 [Lux Research]
February 24, 2015 – Growth of alternative protein sources is poised to accelerate, potentially claiming up to a third of the protein market by 2054, profoundly affecting agriculture, food technology, and end products, according to Lux Research. Global protein consumption will reach 943 million metric tons (MMT) by 2054, rising at a 1.7% CAGR from the current 473 MMT. Alternative protein sources will pick up the slack of slowing meat and seafood growth, and could claim as much as 33% of total protein consumption by 2054. “Novel protein sources beyond meat and fish are finding opportunities for growth within the once static protein industry,” said Camilla Stice, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, “WhooPea: Plant Sources Are Changing the Protein Landscape.” “Consumer preference, concerns over the planet’s ability to produce sufficient meat, impact of livestock agriculture on the environment, and mounting scientific advances are driving the changing protein demand,” she added.

Lux Research analysts studied the factors affecting supply and demand of protein for human consumption, and evaluated several current and emerging alternative protein sources. Among their findings:
• Soy will dominate the alternative protein space over the next 10 years.
• Nascent alternative protein sources will gain market share in the coming decades.
• Approximately 430 million hectares of cropland worldwide will be used to grow the crops that will feed this growing protein demand by 2024.
- Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, and Hampton Creek Go to Market with Alternative Protein Products [AGFunder News]
Earlier this week, food tech entrepreneurs and investors gathered at the Future Food-Tech Summit in New York. A number of subsectors of the food tech space were represented during the event, but perhaps one of the hottest discussions was over alternative proteins. On a mission to reduce the carbon footprint of meat production, and the inhumane industrial farming practices associated with much of the global animal agriculture industry, there’s a group of startups using plant proteins or culturing techniques to manufacture alternatives to animal-based produce, mainly meat, eggs, and milk. While each startup takes a different approach, those producing meat alternatives usually use similar ingredients such as soybean and split pea, extracting the amino acids and materials they believe can help to produce a meaty feel and flavor, and even a blood-like liquid when raw. These startups still represent a relatively small segment of the wider food and agtech universe — alternative protein startups raised $160 million last year of the $4.6 billion annual total for agtech overall — but they’ve captured the attention of high-profile investors.
Previously.
posted by Fizz (136 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's people, right?

I'm so on the fence about this. I get freaked out eating things that are too meat-like because it makes me think of all of the meat I don't want to eat, but on the other hand, man sometimes I really miss tacos.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:35 PM on June 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


Heck yeah, bring it on.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:37 PM on June 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


Obligatory Zappa
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:38 PM on June 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


I can generally get my meat-eating friends to approve of fake-meat options, but bacon is still the wild frontier.
posted by miguelcervantes at 6:39 PM on June 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


I probably eat meat once a week and even then, it's usually chicken or fish. And there are also times when I just get in a mood or a phase where I avoid all meat, months at a time. Still, occasionally, I find myself craving something in a patty form and I've been impressed with the number of alternatives that are available now, as compared to 10-15 years ago. I'm all for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly model of protein development.
posted by Fizz at 6:39 PM on June 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


We seem to have passed some kind of threshold of faux animal product quality. Just this past Sunday I was having lunch with friends when Minneapolis' Herbivorous Butcher came up in conversation. Right after lunch my fiance and I were strolling around the neighborhood when we came across the new L.A. outpost of this vegan restaurant, which another friend claims has pastries that taste like they're made with real butter. You can also get Daiya vegan cheese (which is actually good!) on any pizza at a lot of the "fast casual" neapolitan-style pizza places around here. Sprinkles Cupcakes has vegan options now, too.

I tried to go vegan for a month earlier this year, and while it was hard, it wasn't as difficult as I assumed it would be. I wonder how long it'll be till Taco Bell starts selling a crunch-wrap with Meatless Crumbles, and Domino's offers Daiya?
posted by Sara C. at 6:47 PM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


You can make a perfectly serviceable taco with TVP, if we're talking the kind of tacos that you make with an Old El Paso taco kit from the grocery store. I've had 'em, it works fine. The TVP has less savoriness and flavor than ground beef, but the texture is good and they're so heavily spiced that it doesn't really lose much. It's definitely a taco, just a slightly worse taco.

Which is pretty much how I feel about all fake meat products; they're often quite good, but never as good as what they're meant to replace. They're compromise foods, simulations of meat. Simulations are never as good as the experience they are simulating, they just aren't. The compromise may be acceptable depending on one's needs and priorities, but it's not the real thing.

I don't think vegetarians are deluding themselves about this or anything, and I know I'm hardly the first to make this point. But my favorite veggie burgers are the ones that don't bother trying to replicate beef too closely, and which just aim to taste good when put on a bun with some ketchup and lettuce. I eat those sometimes, even though I also eat meat.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:52 PM on June 2, 2016 [25 favorites]


I feel like I'm the only person who actually likes those totally not meatlike veggie burgers. I wonder if there's going to be any market for them in the future.
posted by dilaudid at 6:55 PM on June 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm still waiting for lab-grown meat, though. For now my vat-grown protein of choice is Quorn. Mmmmm Quorn.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:58 PM on June 2, 2016 [9 favorites]


A meatless burger that bleeds vegetable juices


Wait...is this the result of some sort of meatless beet manifesto?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:59 PM on June 2, 2016 [79 favorites]


Does anybody have any recommendations on stuff that isn't trying to be meat, but it's own thing?

I really like black bean patties for hamburgers. It's not even trying to be meat, and I find it pretty tasty. While not being regular tacos, potato tacos are damn good as well. Mix some smoked paprika in your hummus, spread it thick on a roll, add spinach, olives and tomatos and that's a sandwich.

Beet Sliders?
Pulled Yams?
posted by The Power Nap at 7:02 PM on June 2, 2016


Tempeh is its own thing.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:11 PM on June 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


I really like the original Gardenburger. They weren't ever trying to be meat and until very recently (we do seem to have turned a corner in quality) I found meat analogues so off-putting, I also preferred the non-meat-aspiring products.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:14 PM on June 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


Which is pretty much how I feel about all fake meat products; they're often quite good, but never as good as what they're meant to replace. They're compromise foods, simulations of meat.

This is changing really quickly, though. Meat is difficult because it is actually a part of an animal, and the whole point is to see and understand that. But ground beef and chicken nuggets are actually fairly easily replicated. (OMG Morningstar Buffalo "chicken" Nuggets, how I love thee...) The real shift is happening in dairy, and it's happening fast.

A year ago, having a vegan coworker who wanted something to put in her coffee meant a special trip to Whole Foods for the only brand of almond milk that was remotely serviceable. Now you can get coconut-based nondairy creamer at any supermarket. The local bakery has vegan cupcakes that taste indistinguishable from the dairy-laden ones. The local pizza place can do a pie with vegan cheese, which doesn't taste quite like cheese but is good on pizza, for an extra couple bucks. We're probably another year from almond milk for your coffee and TVP taquitos at 7-11.
posted by Sara C. at 7:19 PM on June 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


what's wrong with a good falafel? I'm not vegan or vegetarian, but give me a good falafel and the last thing I'll be wanting is meat.
posted by philip-random at 7:24 PM on June 2, 2016 [31 favorites]


Well, for one, falafel and also more falafel cannot sustain man (or woman) alone. I agree they make a nice option in an omnivorous diet. But a lot of the time, a falafel is the only vegetarian option.

Also I find them unbearably dry at most middle eastern joints. There are a few vegan Israeli places here in L.A. that get it, but they're mostly a sad alternative.
posted by Sara C. at 7:27 PM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


A few comments up above have already mentioned how there seems to have been a shift with regards to access and availability of these products. And I think it's because these larger corporations are starting to realize that there is a larger market that they've ignored up until now. And so we're starting to see more options, more innovation, etc.
posted by Fizz at 7:27 PM on June 2, 2016


Fizz: "General Mills Exec 'Bullish' on Plant Proteins, Eyes Algae and Even Crickets"

So for a moment I was thinking, "I suppose algae could help replicate the texture of eyes," before I realized I had read this wrong.
posted by RobotHero at 7:28 PM on June 2, 2016 [25 favorites]


I'm not at all a vegetarian but the new cafe at school makes a tempeh banh mi that is one of the best sandwiches I've ever had. I'm sort of salivating thinking about it right now.
posted by octothorpe at 7:30 PM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Me: "You've gotten the texture down pretty good, but it still doesn't really taste like meat."
Beyond Meat: "Guess what - we just improved the texture."
Me: "..."
posted by naju at 7:31 PM on June 2, 2016 [13 favorites]


I grew up vegetarian. My parents were, so I never had to make some moral decision to choose my diet. Kind of like adopting your parent's religion and deciding it works for you, despite any inconveniences.

I still have yet to eat meat (on purpose). It's going to be increasingly weird in the not-too-far-off future when I get served some uber convincing fake meat.

- "What is this? I don't eat meat. I ordered a lentil burger."
- "This is a lentil burger. No one eats actual meat anymore."
- "But it's bleeding…"
- "Oh, that's just beet protein extract. No animal was harmed in the making of this patty."
- "And it smells like meat."
- "All chemically constructed by our in-house bio-engineers with a cocktail of vegetable extracts."
- "But blood. Lentils?"
- "..."
- "..."
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 7:32 PM on June 2, 2016 [19 favorites]


I think the nutritional profile and texture would be most important to emulate - protein takes longer to break down in the gut, so you can maintain energy longer (at a lower level); the iron and B12 absorption are _both_ important; and the estrogen effects of too much soy protein are possibly a concern.

Plus, vitamins probably affect the flavor subtly - I believe that iron does, for almost certain.

Also, I can't help but wonder if a good firm chewing action would affect dental health? It's certainly something I want.

So, yeah, that all would be nice.

Moisture is good too, of course.

One final important factor: allowing for a range of cooking methods, flavors, and generally allowing people to achieve variety from one starting item. Would be nice. If you make it a fun challenge for chefs, they will get creative and make it a featured item (and maybe it would give them something creative to do with vegan food besides making it spicy, please please).
posted by amtho at 7:36 PM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Tempeh is its own thing.

Tempeh is the greatest thing. I didn't even know it existed until I went vegan last year and now it's my favorite ingredient ever. It has such a nice earthy flavor.

I am generally super excited about all the great vegan versions of animal products coming out. I don't necessarily use them extensively (e.g. the follow your heart vegan egg is eerily accurate, but I just prefer doing tofu scramble mostly), but it makes it a lot easier to get people to consider veganism. I always get a kick out of when I show folks the vegan outreach eating guides and they're like "There are vegan chicken nuggets??" or whatever.
posted by Gymnopedist at 7:38 PM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


when they invent a meat replacement that doesn't make my gut erupt with horrors that would be fine but until then i will keep eating this burger

oh but quorn is wonderful, i love quorn, quorn will be allowed under my totalitarian dictatorship
posted by poffin boffin at 7:40 PM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


I like meat, but usually the best non meat is something that doesn't try to match the taste of meat exactly, like black bean burgers. Tasty, while mimicing the idea of a burger.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:43 PM on June 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


I used to be against faux meats, but I've actually come around. I still eat meat, but there are some vegan/vegetarian sandwich places around here that make really awesome sandwiches out of seitan (and I genuinely love the texture of seitan so much - as opposed to the taste of tempeh, which I can't stand). I've been making an effort to eat less meat, and it's actually really nice to have fake meat that I'm willing to actually go out of my way for because it's really good at being what it is.

I'm a little weirded out by fake meat that bleeds beet juice, though. Thats... not why I eat meat, and it's not what I want in a meat substitute. To each their own, I guess.
posted by teponaztli at 7:48 PM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've had Beyond Meat's chicken strips a few years ago. It's expensive and it would fool anyone who is used to eating dryish chicken on a Caesar or in a fast food burrito. It's impressive.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 7:50 PM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


They sure score high on the "let's try to find the one thing that will stain worse than blood" test though.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:58 PM on June 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


I remember when I was a vegetarian, what I really missed was all the blood.
posted by bibliowench at 7:59 PM on June 2, 2016 [41 favorites]


Does anybody have any recommendations on stuff that isn't trying to be meat, but it's own thing?

Indian food (either cooked at home or at any halfway legit restaurant) is great for this. Especially southern Indian - I'm an avowed carnivore, but I could eat masala dosa for the rest of my life and be happy.

Ditto for Jamaican Ital food, but that can be really hard to find if you don't live somewhere with a sizable Jamaican population.
posted by Itaxpica at 7:59 PM on June 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


For the record, black bean burgers do not do it for me, generally. "Just beans" is pretty carb-y and pretty mushy. Plus, again, for some reason _all_ black bean burgers seem to be required to be spicy. But the real issue is the mushiness + carbiness.

Oh, and the way they squish out the sides of the bun when you bite them.

And the spiciness.
posted by amtho at 7:59 PM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I remember when I was a vegetarian, what I really missed was all the blood.

maybe they can invent a vegetable that screams when you cut it, for further authenticity
posted by poffin boffin at 8:00 PM on June 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


So the CEO of Impossible Foods is Patrick O Brown, who was, like, a legit big shot full professor of biochemistry at Stanford until he quit to start the company. I saw him give a talk (that was a little light on science for the venue but really interesting). He claimed that until they did it no one had ever put meat through a mass spectrometer to find out what chemicals are actually in it. He also said that they figured out early on that heme (as in, the stuff that makes your blood hold onto oxygen), when added to a mixture of those chemicals and heated, resulted in a ton of molecules, presumably many of which are involved in meaty flavour. He also said that their goal is to make their product cheaper than actual meat.

On the not-trying-to-be-meat burger front, I love me a good grilled portobello mushroom.
posted by quaking fajita at 8:00 PM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Wait...is this the result of some sort of meatless beet manifesto?

You waited 20 years.

You had one shot.

You goddamn nailed it. On the head.

I'm tempted to go buy you a trophy or something.

One favourite isn't enough here.

Also I need to point out that regular meat hamburgers don't bleed when you cook them. As you cook them water gets squeezed out of the proteins and it includes some heme and later the juices are fat that's liquefied but there's technically not really any blood in a hamburger.
posted by GuyZero at 8:02 PM on June 2, 2016 [15 favorites]


maybe they can invent a vegetable that screams when you cut it, for further authenticity

I long for a future where one can hunt vegetables in a private garden.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:04 PM on June 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


Is there any way to see a life cycle analysis of any of the Beyond Meat products, or even a pre-production approximation? That would be cool. I sometimes wonder how much less resource intensive it really is to eat vegetable protein that's concentrated and processed to be like meat, vs. just the regular life cycle of animals.
posted by amtho at 8:04 PM on June 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


Why? I am a meat eater, but mainly chicken and pork. I'm not too keen on beef, and a large part of that is that the juices squick me out. I'm one of those monsters who (until very recently) ordered steak well done. When the mister travels, I'm perfectly happy to eat a vegetarian diet full of vegetable tasting vegetables.
posted by Ruki at 8:06 PM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


The irony is that when they extract protein from peas, the leftover parts (which is like 95% of the pea) probably get sold for use as animal feed.
posted by GuyZero at 8:07 PM on June 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


maybe they can invent a vegetable that screams when you cut it, for further authenticity

This has been done. I've heard the screams of the vegetables.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:08 PM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


we feast upon the pea blood, drained from innocent peas, and discard their carcasses?
posted by poffin boffin at 8:09 PM on June 2, 2016


And as someone who got food poisoning from an undercooked burger last friday night, non-meat burgers should have plenty of appeal for carnivores as well if a burger is what you want. As much as I love meat I am off burgers for a year at least. A few hours of power vomiting is no fun.
posted by GuyZero at 8:09 PM on June 2, 2016


I wish there was a meat substitute available in my grocery store that didn't taste like it was 15% sodium.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:18 PM on June 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


A year ago, having a vegan coworker who wanted something to put in her coffee meant a special trip to Whole Foods for the only brand of almond milk that was remotely serviceable. Now you can get coconut-based nondairy creamer at any supermarket.

Hasn't coffee whitener been coconut-oil-based forever?
posted by indubitable at 8:21 PM on June 2, 2016


i became a veg for fifteen years. when i first began, i asked my kitchen 'mentor' about about meat substitutes:

"well. to me what's useful is 'just stop looking for a facsimile'. when you start to get curious about all the varieties of flavors and textures in not-meat, a whole universe opens. then add in all those spices you've heard of but have no idea about. there is enough there for most anyone. will you always miss bacon cheeseburgers? it's pretty fuckin' likely. habit is hard to shed."

thank you, scott a, for keepin it real.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:39 PM on June 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


I sometimes wonder how much less resource intensive it really is to eat vegetable protein that's concentrated and processed to be like meat, vs. just the regular life cycle of animals.

I'm friends with a scientist who works at Impossible Foods and he says it's not even close: a cow is just about the least efficient way imaginable to turn vegetable material into something like meat.
posted by escabeche at 8:42 PM on June 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


a cow is just about the least efficient way imaginable to turn vegetable material into something like meat.

Well, yes and no. Cows eat grass which people don't eat. There's lots of places that can grow grass but not much else. But the average north american beef cow doesn't just eat grass these days.
posted by GuyZero at 8:45 PM on June 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


So I'm a meat-eater, but I've been kind of curious about this stuff, and am considering ordering a variety pack from the Herbivorous Butcher to try while I'm visiting the US this summer. Does anyone have any experience with their stuff? Is it at least good enough (or bad enough) to be interesting?
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:46 PM on June 2, 2016


I am eating a afternoon snack of chilli and garlic crickets which is interesting. Perhaps I would like them more if they were veg-o-crickets? As it stands they're pretty good.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:48 PM on June 2, 2016


Hasn't coffee whitener been coconut-oil-based forever?

Maybe?

Nowadays it's explicitly vegan/organic/etc, tastes like coconut milk (surprisingly good in coffee!), and resembles something close enough to a whole food that the vegan in the office will drink it. I guessed that it was coconut cream thinned out enough to be useful, but you may be right, it may all just be a gigantic conspiracy to trick the tree-huggers into cozying up to big ag.
posted by Sara C. at 8:53 PM on June 2, 2016


Cozying up to big gag. I frequent a Vietnamese mostly vegetarian restaurant. They use a lot of veggie meats in their dishes. I don't bother with that and just order the tofu. The tofu lettuce wraps are much better than the real chicken ones. I would get behind a great vegetarian burger. Yes I would, because I love burgers and burgers kill, every which way.
posted by Oyéah at 9:01 PM on June 2, 2016


I'm still waiting for lab-grown meat, though. For now my vat-grown protein of choice is Quorn. Mmmmm Quorn.

They pretty much have the nugget/mince end of things to the point where cost is the only issue.
posted by Artw at 9:03 PM on June 2, 2016


There's a restuarant here in San Francisco, whose name I can't remember, that serves these huge, blood dripping vegetable burgers that look and taste pretty much like something that once mooed. As a registered omnivore who likes a good beef patty on a bun (these come on more appropriate pita bread) it was ok. But while eating it up and constantly wiping my chin, I kept wondering why meatless Morriseys would want to eat something like this? Flirting with the forbidden? Can someone explain?
posted by njohnson23 at 9:16 PM on June 2, 2016


BTW, I have to admit there have been a lot of advances in the vegetarian food that isn't trying to be meat category, as well. I'm dining on Trader Joe's frozen Kung Pao Cauliflower as we speak. I would honestly rather eat this than Kung Pao Chicken.
posted by Sara C. at 9:16 PM on June 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


But while eating it up and constantly wiping my chin, I kept wondering why meatless Morriseys would want to eat something like this? Flirting with the forbidden? Can someone explain?

At least with Pat Brown's company, meatless Morrisseys actually aren't the target audience -- they're going after everyday omnivores. The idea is to eventually make fake meat that is as good as the real thing, but with a much lighter environmental impact and possibly some cost savings.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:27 PM on June 2, 2016 [13 favorites]


But while eating it up and constantly wiping my chin, I kept wondering why meatless Morriseys would want to eat something like this? Flirting with the forbidden? Can someone explain?

1. people don't usually become vegan because of their taste preferences, and they often do so in spite of their taste preferences
2. these products are not just targeted at vegans -- this burger in particular they're trying to get in the meat display etc
posted by Gymnopedist at 9:29 PM on June 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


I quite like the meatless meats so long as they aren't too meaty. I love a good quorn chick'n nugget for example. They did make a quorn lamb kofta a few years ago that tasted way too much like the real thing for me though. Gave me the right boak.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 9:30 PM on June 2, 2016


It's because we all evolved to be hunters and carnivores, and [continues spouting a bunch of evolutionary psychology without citing anything]
posted by naju at 9:31 PM on June 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


[Pat Brown] also said that they figured out early on that heme (as in, the stuff that makes your blood hold onto oxygen), when added to a mixture of those chemicals and heated, resulted in a ton of molecules, presumably many of which are involved in meaty flavour. He also said that their goal is to make their product cheaper than actual meat.

Hey, I saw him give this talk too! It was super interesting. And I think the version of hemoglobin they're using actually comes from legume root nodules, so it's vegetarian all the way down.

The other point I remember him making was that previous agribusinesses tend to treat "protein" as just some undifferentiated bulk commodity, when actually, e.g., "soy protein" is full of proteins with super different properties that translate into things like different textures and consistencies when cooked. (Plus existing protein preparations leave behind all kinds of off flavors...)

It's interesting that the "blood" in Beyond Meat's product is just beet juice, though; in the Impossible Foods version the "blood" actually has a taste-enhancing function from the hemoglobin. This just seems like color and visual, um, flair... though I could be missing something.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:35 PM on June 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am eating a afternoon snack of chilli and garlic crickets which is interesting.

During my Whole30 last year, I kept Chapul bars at my desk, because I have hypoglycemia and sometimes snacks are really necessary. My colleagues were horrified. I buy meat as ethically as I can afford, but cricket protein seems really sustainable. Why isn't this a thing?
posted by Ruki at 9:41 PM on June 2, 2016


I was happily down with eating crickets to help a friend out with a fundraising thing, but when I went to buy cricket snacks (it's San Francisco so all I had to do was go to the stall at the Ferry Building), all the packaging had warnings about how people who have shellfish allergies - which I do - should not eat bugs with exoskeletons. This made sense when I thought about it, but it hadn't occurred to me. So no curried crunchy crickets for me, though I guess I could eat the mealworms without issue.
posted by rtha at 9:49 PM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


My colleagues were horrified. I buy meat as ethically as I can afford, but cricket protein seems really sustainable. Why isn't this a thing?

Because people get grossed out by the idea of eating bugs. It's nonsensical, but hey, people are irrational. Just means more delicious tacos de gusanos de maguey for the rest of us.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:58 PM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Field Roast hand-formed burgers are my favorite veggie burger - and they're vegan, too! They've done a fairly good job of the texture, but the flavor seems to be it's own thing, and I like it. They rock on the grill, or fried up with a little oil. The Beyond Meat burgers would be hard-pressed to top it. I know their previous burger didn't come close.
posted by evilangela at 10:08 PM on June 2, 2016


Well, yes and no. Cows eat grass which people don't eat. There's lots of places that can grow grass but not much else.

People totally eat all kinds of grass seeds, though, and those can certainly be used to make protein isolates.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:10 PM on June 2, 2016


There are plenty of places that grow grass and not cereal grains or that aren't conventionally farmable. While wheat is a grass, there's a difference.

Beef isn't inherently unenvironmental, it's just terrible the way modern feed lots do it.
posted by GuyZero at 10:19 PM on June 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


Because people get grossed out by the idea of eating bugs. It's nonsensical, but hey, people are irrational

Truth. Spiders and maggots are my line, right now. OTOH, I never really thought I'd happily eat cricket. I think it's because it was cricket flour. Whole insects freak me out, but when they're ground down, I'm okay with eating them.
posted by Ruki at 10:34 PM on June 2, 2016


1. I like fake meat that is trying to be like meat. Fake bacon is better than the real thing. If you're used to meat you will think it's weird, because you aren't used to it & it's new. But a lot of it is tasty as hell.

2. Beyond Meat is like the annoying tech disruption Columbus syndrome thing of the vegan world. Sure, Science, but their fake meats suck. They can't touch Chinese-style fake chicken. They don't pay attention to what things taste like when they cool off. They don't avoid the nasty, distinctive pea protein taste, which is the bane of every vegan and why people use proteins like gluten and soy instead, and have been for about a zillion years.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:59 PM on June 2, 2016


There are plenty of places that grow grass and not cereal grains or that aren't conventionally farmable. While wheat is a grass, there's a difference.

OK, but even in these cases, grass isn't actually toxic to people, it's just difficult to extract calories from its carbohydrates; even the cow actually outsources this job to its microbes. There is no reason to suppose that the cow itself is a particularly energy-efficient technology for transforming grass into something that could feed people. And of course, you still have to contend with methane production from this process, which is a big part of beef's environmental impact; methane can be captured more easily from a bioreactor than from a cow.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:00 PM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Their beyond chicken strips are a joke compared to Gardein or Quorm. Taste like a rotten can of peas if they cool off even a little bit.

It's annoying because people who eat meat and want to try a substitute are going to try these because they are allegedly the best and most like meat, but they're very "meh." Try something else! Please!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:03 PM on June 2, 2016


"If it's beets, we can grill it."
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:23 PM on June 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of the WKRP in Cincinnati episode "Venus Rising." I can't find a clip, but here's the relevant portion:

Herb: Nesmann's got a sponsor, and we've got a lot of ham.
Andy: It's gonna spoil.
Herb: No, no, no. No, it can't. This stuff is... well, it's not exactly real meat.
Mr Carlson: Well, what is it?
Herb: I don't know. But, it can't spoil.
posted by bryon at 11:34 PM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


People eat prawns, so, yeah, why not crickets?

The legs thing sounds gross though.
posted by Artw at 11:37 PM on June 2, 2016


An article about Impossible Foods from the Guardian:
The promise from Impossible Foods – which was started in 2011, has raised $182m and which Google tried unsuccessfully to buy for $300m – is they will be making burgers so realistic that even an “uncompromising” meat eater won’t be able to tell the difference.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:12 AM on June 3, 2016


Fake meats sit deep, deep in the uncanny valley to me. As they approach real meat flavor, they just start to taste like meat that's had something go very wrong, and that will just make people want the real thing more. These products enshrine real meat as the ultimate goal and perfect food. Just eat other things! They are good! Go cook something with onions and garlic and ginger and you'll forget about meat.

Although, as the rare vegan who was driven by hating the taste of animal products, I'm probably just a bit biased...
posted by Flower Grower at 12:33 AM on June 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


is they will be making burgers so realistic that even an “uncompromising” meat eater won’t be able to tell the difference.

mmm... i don't know. i bet they'll fool the kind of people who think diet coke and stevia taste good. no, i will still prefer hemoglobin autentico.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:40 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


But what are they actually made of? A lot of those meat substitutes are full of weird stuff that just because it is derived from plants is "ok". High Fructose Corn Syrup is vegan isn't it?

From the article it seems they are made out of at least
- Peas (or protein extracted from peas)
- Beet Juice.

What else is in them? Why is there no listed ingredients anywhere?
posted by mary8nne at 12:49 AM on June 3, 2016


If I were a vegan, or for whatever reason did not want to eat meat, why would i get hot and bothered about a non-meat burger that tasted like meat? I would be interested in that which did not taste like meat.
posted by Postroad at 1:04 AM on June 3, 2016


I would definitely eat faux-meat if it were more convincingly like meat. I like to eat cheeseburgers but I know vegetables are just healthier. Plus I have this fear that future technology will let us communicate with cows and they'll be like "Stop fucking eating us". I'd feel pretty bad about it.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:04 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Fake meat and/or fake dairy are also exciting for the kosher keeping crowds.
posted by Cozybee at 1:37 AM on June 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


There are no Beyond Meat products in my immediate vicinity for me to purchase, but we had the plain chicken grilled strips when I was in Orlando earlier this year. The texture and taste was uncanny in its resemblance.

As for the whole "if vegans don't want to eat meat, then why do they want to eat things that replicate meat" canard that gets trotted out during these convos, it's about normalization. It's about being able to feel somewhat less of a weirdo at social gatherings when everyone else is eating actual beef and chicken. Yes, we mostly eat tons of beans and veg, but bringing your usual dishes to a social gathering usually marks you as "difficult" or "weird." Allowing us to have items to purchase that simulate what others are eating makes us feel a little more able to blend in.

(Also, I too am a rare vegan who finally went veg because I never liked the taste of meat. Mostly beef. I ate it when I was a kid because you eat what your parents feed you, but I'd always end up feeling sick afterwards.)
posted by Kitteh at 3:49 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm not a vegetarian but I do try to limit my meat intake due to discomfort with environmental and ethical issues with meat production.

And I looove meat. I love plenty of things that don't have any resemblance to meat too, but if someone made a burger that was indistinguishable from the real thing, I'd choose the fake thing every time, particularly if it was cheaper which is where these folks are trying to go with this eventually.
posted by geegollygosh at 5:19 AM on June 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


I grew up vegetarian. My parents were, so I never had to make some moral decision to choose my diet.

That's one of those parenting dilemmas for me. I'm mostly vegetarian (with the exception of chicken and turkey), and I haven't had any desire to go back to red meats since traveling through Europe during the cowmaggedon of the mad cow scare that swept the continent a few years back. That's convenient for me because I also think it's the more ethical thing to do at a time when people like Stephen Hawking are worrying publicly that we might see catastrophic levels of warming in just a couple of generations due to runaway feedback effects that may already be happening. But my inner liberal doesn't like the idea of forcing a choice like that on my kids, so I've always encouraged my kids to make the choice themselves, after explaining my own highly personal reasons for choosing not to eat red meat. Every now and then, my son wants a real beef burger when we go out to eat, but usually not. Not sure if my daughter is quite old enough to understand the choice, but she generally does the same.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:43 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love plenty of things that don't have any resemblance to meat too, but if someone made a burger that was indistinguishable from the real thing, I'd choose the fake thing every time, particularly if it was cheaper which is where these folks are trying to go with this eventually.

I wonder if it will get cheap enough that the budget menus at McDonalds and other fast food places will start being the fake meat, with the real meat reserved to differentiate their higher priced options? There would be a good environmental boost from that, because all those dollar hamburgers add up to a lot of meat. Once the costs drop, this will probably become a staple of institutional food along with fast food and some prepared foods (and will probably offer some food handling and contamination advantages over meat from industrial packing plants).

But I also don't really see the attraction of this outside of the supply chain advantages. Back when I was vegetarian, the fake-meats creeped me out, and now that I am omnivorous again I'd rather eat simpler foods -- real meat, or real vegetarian foods, but not something that has been highly processed in order to mimic something else.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:49 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


As a carnivore, I would be inclined to eat this if the opened with "We gave this and a hamburger to 100 blindfolded* meat eaters and they were statistically unable to guess which was the meat and which was the pees." When you can show me those results, I would consider getting on board,

except...

I kind of do think "eat food" is good advice**, and this is not food.

*Because i don't actually care that much if it looks/bleeds like meat as long as the texture and flavour are right.

** However imperfectly (very imperfectly, I assure you) I may follow it.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:51 AM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


Sara C.:
Hasn't coffee whitener been coconut-oil-based forever?
Maybe?

Nowadays it's explicitly vegan/organic/etc, tastes like coconut milk (surprisingly good in coffee!), and resembles something close enough to a whole food that the vegan in the office will drink it. I guessed that it was coconut cream thinned out enough to be useful, but you may be right, it may all just be a gigantic conspiracy to trick the tree-huggers into cozying up to big ag.
What a deeply weird response. I figured there was something in non-dairy creamers that made them non-vegan that I didn't know about, but I guess it's also an invitation to invent things that I didn't say that make me sound unhinged.
posted by indubitable at 6:07 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


When I was a vegetarian this would have been a day one purchase. Right next to my Morningstar Farms, Quorn and Tofurky products. Now it kinda grosses me out. Go figure.
posted by Splunge at 6:09 AM on June 3, 2016


why would i get hot and bothered about a non-meat burger that tasted like meat?

Have you really never denied yourself something you'd like because you thought it was the right thing to do -- healthier, more ethical, etc?

I love meat and the only reason I'm not a vegetarian is that I can't bring myself to make that change. Truly convincing fake meat products would be perfect for someone like me. I'm doubtful that this is convincing though. Maybe someday. (I actually enjoy a good veggie burger and would prefer that to unconvincing fake meat.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:09 AM on June 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


I wonder if it will get cheap enough that the budget menus at McDonalds and other fast food places will start being the fake meat, with the real meat reserved to differentiate their higher priced options?

When I was a kid, I saw something on tv about how cheap beans were and that you could make fake meat out of them. I became convinced that the chicken nuggets at McDonalds and all meats at my school were actually made from beans because it would save money. I went vegetarian for a while and still ate at McDonalds.

My favorite veggie burger is the Hot Dang!, original flavor. it has visible wild rice and cashews in it, so parts of it are soft and parts of it are crunchy. This prevents the usual "smushy burger" syndrome that comes from making bean burgers.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:11 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


I wonder if it will get cheap enough that the budget menus at McDonalds and other fast food places will start being the fake meat, with the real meat reserved to differentiate their higher priced options?

This makes a certain amount of sense given that McDonald's burgers don't really taste like a real burger anyway.

Relevant Parks and Rec
posted by Fleebnork at 6:30 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


You waited 20 years.

You had one shot.

You goddamn nailed it. On the head.



In hindsight, I probably should have gone with Beet-Meat Manifesto.

Not really my best effort.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:39 AM on June 3, 2016 [10 favorites]


saulgoodman, I've had plenty of opportunities to begin eating meat. My parents suggested it at times, so it's not like doing so would have caused a falling out; both stopped eating meat because they didn't much enjoy it.

I think that I remained vegetarian into my 20s because 1) I wanted to make life easier for my parents and not demand a separate meal, 2) it really irked other people and that was fun for me as a kid, 3) it (usually) worked fine in the utilitarian sense, and 4) I realized (probably in my early teens) that it aligned with my ethical views. Mainly, though, it's what my taste buds became accustomed to.

I don't have much of an ethical case against these burgers, but its resemblance to meat makes me not want to eat one.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 6:44 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: statistically unable to guess which was the meat and which was the pees.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:47 AM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


"The burgers cost $5.99 for a pack of two patties." Unless that comes way down, this will remain a niche product. And the fact that other, less appealing vegetable patties still generally cost substantially more than beef, I'm skeptical. (Yes, I know that beef is highly subsidized.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:57 AM on June 3, 2016


We're probably another year from almond milk for your coffee and TVP taquitos at 7-11.

You've been able to get almond milk (or at least soy milk) at many convenience stores for a while now. It's no big deal.
posted by emjaybee at 7:04 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


the estrogen effects of too much soy protein are possibly a concern.

There are no such effects.
posted by jedicus at 7:06 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Here is a video by Pat Brown from Impossible Foods that might be similar to the talk mentioned above.

For those who are looking for a bacon analogue, Lightlife's tempeh Fakin' Bacon rocks with smokey, salty goodness. It's especially great in tofu scramble or tacos.

I'm a wannabe vegetarian (who can't resist the occasional hotdog at the ballpark). While I like and eat fake meats, my issue with them is that they're even farther away from whole foods than the meat that they're replacing. If a meal includes a choice between highly processed fake meat, or real meat that is closer to a whole food, I have a hard time deciding.
posted by slogger at 7:08 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


(Yes, I know that beef is highly subsidized.)

And therein lies the problem. If the subsidies stopped you'd see a scramble to come up with a perfect analog.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:10 AM on June 3, 2016


a choice between highly processed fake meat, or real meat that is closer to a whole food

Field Roast uses ingredients your grandmother would recognize as food.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:14 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh yes, I lovelovelove Field Roast.
posted by slogger at 7:15 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Had a 'good' experience recently at a fast food chain with a vegie burger. Texture was really close, taste was very close too. Doubt I'll go back for it though, since I don't eat at White Castle's very often.

(Presumably the odors are the same too).
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:18 AM on June 3, 2016


Field Roast uses ingredients your grandmother would recognize as food.

I am skeptical for two reasons:

1. My grandmother would not have recognized gluten (just gluten) as food. Wheat, yes. Flour yes. One chemical (in the technical sense, even sugar is a chemical not a as a pejorative) component of the flour magically separated from the rest is not something my grandmother would have had access to or known what to do with. I am not anti-gluten. I'm just saying that separating gluten from the flour is just as not-food as separating the B12 from wherever they get B12 and putting in a pill. I'm not anti-B12, either. I think the point of "things your gradndmother would recognize as food" refers not only to the ingredients, but to the process of combining them -- processed out the wazoo with a centrifuge is not something your grandmother would recognize as cooking.

2. When foods are heavily processed, you don't actually know everything that went into them. There's a reason that never in a 1000 years will you be able to buy the ingredients listed on a Field Roast product and whip up your own in your kitchen, and it's not just that you don't have a centrifuge. There are ingredients not listed and those ingredients are being used to change the chemical (again, not in any pejorative sense) make-up of our food.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:44 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


And yes, this is pure hypocrisy on my part since I eat things not even my DOG would recognize as food, nevermind my grandmother.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:45 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Most popular non-dairy creamers contain casein, which is a milk derivative. It's not recognized as being vegan or kosher.
posted by Kitteh at 8:02 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Seriously, $5.99/2 servings is too much. I buy Quorn or Morningstar when it gets below $0.50/serving or I stick with tofu and/or beans and gluten, which is like $0.20-0.30/serving. If they don't get it under the price of meat, the meat eaters won't try it, and the vegetarians won't adopt it either.

(also, what are the processing byproducts? Like Greek-style yogurt has created a horrible excess-whey problem. What do we do with the unwanted pea elements? Plastics?)
posted by blnkfrnk at 8:20 AM on June 3, 2016


A Prius that runs on farts, Birkenstock almond leather
posted by Brocktoon at 8:20 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's about being able to feel somewhat less of a weirdo at social gatherings when everyone else is eating actual beef and chicken.

I had a friend who dated and then was married to (for far far too long) a guy who every time we'd BYOTofu Kebabs to their cookouts would loudly and at length tell everyone (and us, to our faces) that tofu tastes literally like dogshit. There's an alarming number of people who think this is perfectly acceptable public behavior.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:25 AM on June 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


Most popular non-dairy creamers contain casein, which is a milk derivative. It's not recognized as being vegan or kosher.

Casein can absolutely be kosher. The main issue is that its presence renders "non-dairy" creamers a milchig product for kosher purposes. To avoid that issue there are pareve non-dairy creamers (e.g.).
posted by jedicus at 8:29 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Had a 'good' experience recently at a fast food chain with a vegie burger. Texture was really close, taste was very close too.


To a White Castle, or to actual meat?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:40 AM on June 3, 2016


Had a 'good' experience recently at a fast food chain with a vegie burger. Texture was really close, taste was very close too.

To a White Castle, or to actual meat?


To White Castle.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:41 AM on June 3, 2016


So, are heavily processed fake meats better environmentally than real meat? It seems they use a lot of exotic ingredients (veggie-based hemoglobin?) so there would be a lot of shipping from several locations, and energy used in the extraction process, and maybe food waste from the non-fake-meat portions of the veggies?
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:47 AM on June 3, 2016


Allowing us to have items to purchase that simulate what others are eating makes us feel a little more able to blend in.

It also makes it a lot easier to be a vegan and have a typical hectic life that isn't entirely centered around meal planning. The fact that I can easily just order a vegan pizza makes things a lot better. The fact that these products mean there might be something on a regular casual restaurant menu that I can order makes eating out a lot easier.

I dated a vegan 5-ish years ago, and if we wanted to eat out we had a choice of two restaurants that had any vegan main course on the menu, a third which would make substitutions for him, and a few more where he could have salad or an appetizer. Now you can eat just about anywhere, including, as someone upthread mentions, basic things omnivores take for granted like attending a backyard barbecue or bringing cupcakes to school on your kid's birthday.
posted by Sara C. at 8:55 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


I have to go to an office BBQ in July and already I'm getting grief about what I will need to eat, despite happily offering to bring my own burgers and sides that way my boss's wife doesn't have to go out of her way for me.
posted by Kitteh at 9:06 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I prefer to be quietly revolutionary and show others that a life without meat is possible and enjoyable. Eating fake meat reinforces the stereotype that I am starving and my body craves meat so badly that I would eat "garbage" just to sate my hunger. It makes veganism look like the choice of an insane person, and I think that "others" me a lot more than just bringing my own food.

Other animal product substitutes trouble me because they are a lot more opaque with ingredients and allergens. I avoid cashews because they make me gassy and stomach-crampy. I have no idea whether a vegan pizza I order has cashew, and the cooks and servers probably don't know either. I know how I'd feel after eating cheese, but vegan cheese is a crapshoot.
posted by Flower Grower at 9:08 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


My grandmother would not have recognized gluten (just gluten) as food.

If your grandmother was Chinese she would. Gluten, just gluten, has been used a food product in China and a few other parts of Asia for a long, long, long, long time. Much like tofu and tempeh, gluten is only new and associated primarily with vegetarians in the west.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:20 AM on June 3, 2016 [13 favorites]


Yeah, and you can make sausages akin to Field Roast's at home using various recognizably-food ingredients (including vital wheat gluten). Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz has some recipes. I'm also just generally in love with that cookbook.
posted by Gymnopedist at 9:34 AM on June 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


Meanwhile my mid-20th century grandmother would recognize vienna sausages as food but would not recognize seaweed as food.
posted by Sara C. at 9:38 AM on June 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


Hasn't coffee whitener been coconut-oil-based forever?

As originally conceived, whitener was soy-based, and later that expanded to include most generic hydrogenated vegetable fats. Coconut oil is a good replacement for that because of it's higher solidification range. It's one way to get around the trans-fats that hydrogenation creates.
posted by bonehead at 10:15 AM on June 3, 2016


Allowing us to have items to purchase that simulate what others are eating makes us feel a little more able to blend in.

Yes, absolutely this 100% but tbh if a non meat eater showed up at a BBQ eating a veggie burger THAT VISIBLY BLED it would be the talk of the town for centuries to come, thus defeating the purpose.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:08 AM on June 3, 2016


My take on the "blood" thing is that the articles are all clumsily talking about the burgers being juicy or dripping with meat juices as you eat them. Which is an element of a burger that you just don't get with veggie patties currently on the market, and which some people enjoy experiencing.

I don't really get the whole "bleeding" thing, as a way to describe this phenomenon.
posted by Sara C. at 11:13 AM on June 3, 2016


But for the fact that they use beet juice for it.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:16 AM on June 3, 2016


Yeah, that seems weird to me unless it turns out that beet juice has a lot of the chemical components of beef jus. The thing I find weird about the beet juice thing isn't so much EW BLOOD but that I don't want that juiciness to taste sweet like beet juice, but umami like maybe some kind of mushroom/soy sauce reduction. Which seems to be a flavor that the fake meat companies are starting to understand more, and which is leading to functional vegan cheeses and the like. But the beet juice meat juice? I just don't know. I'd try it though, sure.
posted by Sara C. at 11:21 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah I feel like the decision to go with beet juice specifically may be a mistake. Plus I'm pretty sure that if the juice in your burger is bright red you may want to cook it a little more.

I love wheat gluten and wish there was a way to get it in a form that let itself to making vats of curry or a giant pan of stir fry (and wasn't just buying vital wheat gluten and making it from scratch, because unfortunately I don't have time for those kind of kitchen projects these days). All the fake meat analogues are packaged in small, easy to use package sizes.
posted by quaking fajita at 11:50 AM on June 3, 2016


Oh, and a yet unmentioned benefit of veggie burgers: they come in numbers that are a factor of the package sizes of burger buns.
posted by quaking fajita at 11:58 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Daiya's been around forever (it doesn't melt like real cheese); and Gardein pretty much upped the ante on mainstream products a LONG time ago. Their Better than Burgers taste just like the flat burgers my mom would make.

The quality of fake meat isn't going to turn anyone in a vegan. The collapsing planet might. My2c.

Truth or Drought.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:00 PM on June 3, 2016


Obligate carnivores retaliate with a processed lard/gristle product that's sort of like tofu, but less moist and slightly more viscous.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:06 PM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


So, are heavily processed fake meats better environmentally than real meat? It seems they use a lot of exotic ingredients (veggie-based hemoglobin?) so there would be a lot of shipping from several locations, and energy used in the extraction process, and maybe food waste from the non-fake-meat portions of the veggies?

Yeah, the whole point is supposed to be that beef farming typically involves so much waste (don't forget about the shipping costs of fodder and all the methane and manure generated by cattle for a 1:1 comparison of the environmental impacts) that even if you're not being crazily efficient with the ingredients, you still use less land, water, and energy making the vegetables into a patty vs. using them to feed a cow. (The veggie hemoglobin is just a soybean root protein, so it's not super exotic, but I think IF are actually overexpressing it in yeast so you can just grow a bucket of it.)
posted by en forme de poire at 12:56 PM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Daiya's been around forever (it doesn't melt like real cheese)

It absolutely does*, and while it's existed for a while now, it's suddenly everywhere. A year ago it wasn't an option at my local pizza place, for example. Ditto almond milk: five years ago it was expensive, hard to find, and not very good. Now my local Ralph's carries a brand of good enough quality that I'd drink it straight.

A lot of these changes are companies and products that have existed for a while but have had the time to really figure out how to do it right and extend their tentacles into the mainstream. I can only hope that stuff like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are next on the list.

*Though this may be something that has changed recently; I remember vegan friends talking up Daiya a few years ago and thinking it was nasty and they were deluded, whereas within the last few months I've made delicious vegan pizza using their take on mozzarella.
posted by Sara C. at 2:09 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Real cheese does't even melt like real cheese any more.

I am scared of vegan cheese because the buckets of yeast extract we used to make bacterial growth media smelled exactly like Kraft Dinner.
posted by quaking fajita at 2:38 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well, for one, falafel and also more falafel cannot sustain man (or woman) alone. I agree they make a nice option in an omnivorous diet. But a lot of the time, a falafel is the only vegetarian option.

Yeah. In my experience, most people who are or have been vegetarian will groan at the phrase "hummus platter", regardless of how much they like hummus or falafel. They're great, they're just often the only things available. (Similarly, I put my foot down recently about a lunchtime work meeting I help organize, saying that I refuse to eat that damn mushroom risotto one more time. Eating it six meetings in a row was enough, dammit, and the chef can come up with something else.)

maybe they can invent a vegetable that screams when you cut it, for further authenticity

"Veggie Kill: the restaurant for vegetarians who still have a little animal in them!"
posted by Lexica at 3:26 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Original Daiya was perfectly serviceable and loads better than what had currently been on the market; they underwent a tinkering of their products over the last year and are now better, imo. I just had their New York cheesecake a couple of weekends ago and holy crap, it was delicious (though hella calorific). In any case, I like Daiya fine as it is rapidly becoming easier to find in any old supermarket, but the fancy vegan cheeses are where it's at for me if I'm feeling spendy.
posted by Kitteh at 3:28 PM on June 3, 2016


Yeah. In my experience, most people who are or have been vegetarian will groan at the phrase "hummus platter", regardless of how much they like hummus or falafel. They're great, they're just often the only things available.

To piggyback on Lexica's comment, fuck, I cannot tell you how many times I've had to eat hummus wraps or hummus & pita & veg at social events because it's the only thing on offer. I love the hell out of some hummus, but it gets irritating when that is the limit of anyone's idea of vegetarian. (I also feel the same about the roasted veg panini. It too ends up being sad and lifeless.)
posted by Kitteh at 3:30 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The re: TVP - rehydrate it with some Bragg's liquid aminos or soy sauce in the water, I find that little extra saltiness and umami basically turns it into indistinguishable from ground beef for that sort of thing (Tacos, Sloppy Joes, etc.)

Also coconut bacon bits are surprisingly OK but I don't trust the sudden influx of "OMG COCONUT YOU GUYS" products.

I'd be down for trying these new burgers, I'm not a vegetarian but try to be omniflexible and reduction of meat eaten is generally in my wheelhouse.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 3:33 PM on June 3, 2016


I cannot tell you how many times I've had to eat hummus wraps or hummus & pita & veg at social events because it's the only thing on offer

See also: pasta primavera and every catered event I've ever been to. When my husband and I got married and had a multi course vegetarian dinner catered we explicitly specified when meeting with the chef to set the menu NO PASTA PRIMAVERA. Though we did toy with the idea of serving that to everyone else while we chowed down on some real food, just so everyone could get a taste of what it's like to be us most of the time.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:10 PM on June 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


I just had their New York cheesecake a couple of weekends ago and holy crap, it was delicious (though hella calorific)

THIS IS IN MY FREEZER RIGHT NOW DAMN YOU

(the damn you is because my fiance is out of town this weekend and it would be wrong to eat a whole cheesecake myself.)
posted by Sara C. at 4:31 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


(the damn you is because my fiance is out of town this weekend and it would be wrong to not eat a whole cheesecake myself.)

Fixed.
posted by Fizz at 5:45 PM on June 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


This thread is not complete without this Why I Love Saturn quote: "Why do vegetarians spend so much time trying to make vegetables look like meat? Do monks buy a lot of inflatable sex dolls?"

Meanwhile my mid-20th century grandmother would recognize vienna sausages as food but would not recognize seaweed as food.

Parenting has really driven home to me how different the food landscape is (or at least can be) for an american kid now than it was when I was my boyo's age, forty-*cough* years ago. Which isn't to say it's all better; he has cohorts who have parents who don't cook at all - which would have just been incomprehensible to us then - and I don't think 7 different choices of doritos qualifies as a snack food revolution.

But "hummus" was probably one of his first 30 words and he's been to more sushi restaurants in his 3.5 years than I went to in my first sixteen. He's eaten more Ethiopian than I did in my first thirty. He likes french fries better than edamame but not by a lot. When I was packing his day care lunches I would buy little single-serve hummus tubs that I could get at the grocery. I didn't know hummus existed till I was about fourteen and the snack innovation that was showing up then was Lunchables.

Now, I live in the People's Republic of Arlington VA so we're a little more cosmopolitan than average. But I grew up in Miami so it wasn't a complete backwater as far as global influence goes. The sort of interesting choices in the store, both interesting-good and interesting-apocryphal-curse, are amazing.

And as far as seaweed goes - the last time I heard about a convincing bacon substitute it was made of seaweed.
posted by phearlez at 7:11 AM on June 22, 2016


LightLife Smart Bacon is a convincing substitute (assuming you don't expect fat.). Shiitakes do pretty well too. Tempeh is "OK."
posted by mrgrimm at 4:52 PM on June 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


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