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Fake meat? We sort out the sizzle from the steak

We have a butchers at whether artificial meat is all just pork pies, or whether there's some delicious potential for the future of this industry

As a committed vegetarian, I'm always amused when people ask me if I miss the taste of meat. The truth is, not really. For me, I was able to replicate tastes I associated with meat by cooking other things such as tofu in the same herbs, spices and sauces.

But then again, I was never very attached to the idea of eating meat.

So, what if you're a meat lover who wants to do their bit for the planet? Well, firstly cutting down on red meat consumption is a good option. Secondly, choosing local, organic and free-range options are the way to go.

But what if you could get the full taste and texture of meat without the associated environmental impact? What if you could get meat…. that wasn't actually meat?

A report from the New York Times looked into the emerging field of meat-free…er, meat.

A revolution is unfolding in the food world, resulting in the first alternatives to meat that taste like the real thing. Veggie burgers used to seem like a blend of tofu and cardboard, but in the last few years food scientists have come up with first-rate faux chicken strips and beef crumbles.”
- New York Times

The scientists behind the project have been using structural biology to create the meat alternatives. "We can use a broad range of plant protein sources and create a palette of textures and tastes - for example, jerky, cured meats, sausage, pork," says Joseph D. Puglisi of Stanford University. "The true challenge will be to recreate more complex pieces of meat that are the pinnacle of the meat industry…I believe that plausible, good-tasting steaks and pork loins are only a matter of time."

This is encouraging news indeed for any meat-loving environmentalists. Of course, the artificial meats won't be able to completely fool true connoisseurs of steak, but it's certainly an interesting concept to consider.

It's also good news for anyone shopping on a budget, as "these meat alternatives could end up being cheaper than real meat".

Buyers won't just be vegans but also carnivores simply looking for healthy, sustainable, cheap food.
- New York Times

So ask yourself: if you can get a tastier, healthier, less expensive and more ethical food source, would you be willing to ditch your cutlets and chops?

Image: Shutterstock

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