What do we talk about when we talk about alternative meat? To find out, just take a tour of the Seeds & Chips stands, the 4 days dedicated to innovation applied to food, until May 9th at the Milan Fair.
There are no signs of barbecues around, but all the possible alternatives to steak peek out, put on the plate by food scientists to respond to the desire for meat in emerging countries. And why not, even to our wanting to eat less without losing the benefits that nutritionists attribute to animal proteins.
Fake meat? Not really… better to say plausible, given that it closely resembles the real one for consistency, flavour and structure. And sometimes it comes from the same animals. Here are four startups that we could soon see on our table.
“Texturised vegetable proteins with a unique structure identical to the meat”: this is the proposal from the Russian startup Greenwise, to Seeds & Chips with a meat of vegetable origin. The plant based meat comes in the form of strips to prepare adding water, which after the hydration acquire the fibrous structure and the characteristic chewiness of the meat. “And as for nutritional properties, it has even more protein than real meat,” they explain at the fair. On the site there is the recipe to use it even in beef stroganoff.
The snack form is also available, ready to taste with beef or chicken. The consistency in this case is a little rubbery, but not bad. What is it made of? Isolated soy, gluten, olive oil, natural spices and a “secret” aromatic vegan mixture.
Among the exhibitors is Higher Steaks, among the first companies in the world to produce meat using cutting-edge cell culture techniques. The so-called “clean” meat comes from induced pluripotent stem cells, that is obtained from blood samples or from a small leather sample. The cells are then left to proliferate in the laboratory and then differentiated into muscle or fat.
Result? A meat that in taste and consistency is very similar to the real one, but does not come from the slaughter of animals and consequently uses 99% less land, 96% less water, 45% less energy and produces less 96% of greenhouse gas emissions. The arrival on the market is scheduled for 2021.
Redefine Meat is an Israeli startup that is experimenting with an innovative method of meat production: using 3D printing to give its plant-based products a realistic consistency and flavour.
According to the founder Eschchar Ben-Shitrit, “not only can we imitate the fibers of the flesh, but also the way in which fat and water are trapped in the meat matrix”. The 3D or redefined meat is expected to arrive in Europe in 2020. First it will be necessary to create a printer large enough to satisfy all restaurant requests and thus lower the price which for now – according to The Spoon – is around 30 Euro per kilo.
They are the alternative to the best known and most widespread meat, the one that made the fortune of chains like Flower Burger or Food Evolution, both present at Seeds & Chips. Food Evolution in particular is a line of made in Italy products, the daughter of the forty-year experience of the vegetarian restaurant of the Musacchio family.
The line of foods on the Italian market ranges from veggie burger to diced bacon. But only the “taste”: it is in any case products of vegetable derivation and gluten-free that, according to the company “have the right balance between protein content, a resistant fiber and a captivating taste, whose consistency is of all identical to that of the flesh”.