Starting with Meatless Monday and going right through to Sunday dinner, we’re all aware that we should be eating less meat. But after a few days of spinach salads and veggie loaf, many of us break down and gobble up a bacon cheeseburger with a bit of remorse, but also undeniable pleasure. There’s a reason humans still eat meat—it tastes good. Now a new generation of food innovators is moving forward with creations that satisfy our meat-loving desires, but are still part of a virtuous plant-based diet.
Butcher shop, hold the meat
Aubry Walch and her brother, Kale, run The Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a vegan butcher shop selling Italian sausage, smokehouse ribs, pepperoni and more—all made from ingredients like wheat gluten, beans, nutritional yeast, herbs and spices. Their cruelty-free meat alternatives are high in protein, 100 percent vegan and cholesterol free. “About 65 percent of our customer base is made up of omnivores,” Walch says. “They’re hoping to cut down on meat for health or environmental reasons, but they still miss the taste. I have one customer who tells me ‘I love my meat, but I can’t get enough of your pastrami. It tastes better than the stuff at the deli!’” Select products are available for shipping nationwide.
In Manhattan Beach, California, a group of scientists, researchers and businesspeople have launched Beyond Meat, a company that bypasses the animal entirely, making chicken strips, burgers, and beef crumbles directly from plants. The “Beyond Burger™,” which launched earlier this year, has been winning raves from foodies who say it looks, cooks and tastes like fresh ground beef. It packs a hefty 20 grams of vegetable protein per serving (mostly from peas) but contains no gluten or soy. Thanks to the addition of beet juice, it even “bleeds” like a medium-rare burger. Beyond Meat’s foodservice division sells nationwide to restaurants, schools, offices and food trucks.
Jackfruit to the rescue
The next big thing in meat alternatives is already growing abundantly in tropical regions of Southwest Asia, South America, Australia and the Caribbean. Jackfruit, the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, has a meaty texture and savory flavor when cooked. Responding to a growing demand for plant-based meat alternatives, The Jackfruit Company, in partnership with Global Village Fruit, is now the world’s largest supplier of jackfruit products. Touting its product’s healthy qualities—high in fiber, high in potassium and only 35 calories per serving—the company sells vacuum-sealed bags of “Naked Jackfruit” to foodservice operations, describing it as “a perfect restaurant-quality meat alternative.” Ryu points to jackfruit’s meaty texture and neutral taste as a “blank canvas” for creative entrées including barbeque, curry, teriyaki and tex-mex. “You can grill it, smoke it, fry it, bake it or use it in cold preparations,” she says.
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