What deters many people from switching to a vegan diet is that they don’t want to give up the taste of their favorite meat, dairy and egg dishes. A veggie burger just doesn’t taste like a beef burger, and veggie cheese can never perfectly replace dairy cheese, they say. Well, change is here to prove those assumptions wrong! It’s getting easier than ever to go vegetarian or vegan.
A few cool startups and food companies (mainly coming out of California, naturally) are using science like bio-hacking and synthetic biology to create perfect meat, egg, and dairy replacements. We can bite into burgers, mayo, chicken, and eggs that are made with plants but taste and feel like they’re animal-derived. Most of these products are already available for purchase. The future is here!
The companies below are changing the way we view vegan food.
Muufri – Cow’s Milk (Without the Cow)
Muufri is a San Francisco-based start-up that predicts we will all be drinking artificial milk in 100 years. No, they don’t mean everyone will switch to soy or almond milk; they mean we’ll be sipping on a different kind that tastes just like it came from a cow. It’s with the help of genetically engineered yeast that these bioengineers hope to produce the first glass of artificial milk.
Image: Mel B/ Flickr
Considering that it takes about 1,000 liters of water to produce one liter of milk, (according to the nonprofit Water Footprint Network) switching to plant-based milk is the most sustainable option!
Real Vegan Cheese – Cheese From Baker’s Yeast
Real Vegan Cheese, a company and group of biohackers from the Bay Area, reached their goal for their Kickstarter. Now, they’re making a cheese replacement using synthetic biology and baker’s yeast. Pretty cool!
Image: Real Vegan Cheese
On their website, Real Vegan Cheese says, ” We believe this project has the ability to address future food scarcity concerns. Yeast are renewable and sustainable. We believe that vegans have rights to nutritious cheese too!” Right on and yes, we so do!
Impossible Foods – Burgers That Bleed
If you’re a vegan already, the idea of eating a bloody burger probably isn’t appetizing. But for all the carnivores out there who love beef so rare that it bleeds, listen up: Impossible Foods believes it has created the secret to exactly replicating the taste, look and texture of cow meat in their burger – so much so that their special ingredient is known as “plant blood.”
Image: Impossible Foods
Impossible Foods is a three-year old startup based in Redwood City, California that was founded by Patrick Brown, a first-time entrepreneur and Stanford University biochemist and physician. The company has received a lot of press buzz and financial backing – receiving at least $75 million so far in investments from Google Ventures and Bill Gates.
Hampton Creek – Replacements for Mayo, Cookies, and Eggs
When you need mayo, consider skipping your usual brand and try the mayo replacement from Hampton Creek instead. The company, who is backed by Bill Gates, sells plant-based version called Just Mayo, as well as a vegan cookie mix called Just Cookies and an egg replacement called Beyond Eggs.
Image: The Trent
To make the eggs taste like real animal eggs, the company’s CEO, Josh Tetrick, told Business Insider that scientists at the company have “looked at 1,500 plants on a molecular level. They then break down the proteins in those plants to replicate what eggs can do.”
Beyond Meat – Chicken Strips, Beef Crumbles and Beast Burgers
Beyond Meat sells chicken-free strips and beef-free crumbles that look, feel and taste just like their animal counterparts. So far, the company has proven they hope to change how restaurants serve meat – they offered a free pallet of their new Beast Burger to “better burger” chains if they agreed to add to their menu, and they once served tacos made with vegan chicken beef through their Taco Bell pop up at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Calif.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
For Beyond Meat, the science is simple. “Meat is no mystery,” the company says on its website. “It’s actually pretty simple: amino acids, fats, carbohydrates, trace minerals and water combined to give us that familiar chew, resistance, and variation. What if we are able to take these inputs from plants and apply heating, cooling, and pressure so they combine just like animal meat?”
It will be exciting to see what else these companies come up with! Science rocks!
Have you tried any of these products? How did you like them and/or how do you cook with them?