Plant Based Meat

Plant- and fungi based meat is made from non-animal sourced materials. Some plant based meats are traditional while others have been developed recently, or are in the process of being developed. Traditional meat analogs were developed thousands of years ago in Asia and include derivatives from soybeans (i.e., tofu, tempeh), wheat (i.e., seitan), or fungal mycelium (i.e. quorn). The design and marketing of more recent developments are near equivalent replacements with regard to taste, texture, and nutrition. Examples are “Meatless”, which is made from the seeds of sweet lupines, Risofu, a rice-based tofu product, and different algae-based products. Typically, the production of plant-based meat includes three steps[1]:

  • Protein isolation and functionalization
  • Formulation—Plant proteins are mixed with ingredients to develop meat texture and flour, and to match or exceed the nutrient profile of the meat.
  • Processing—Protein reshaping processes (e.g., stretching, kneading, trimming, pressing, folding, extrusion, shearing, mycelium cultivation, 3D printing etc.) to form a meat-like texture. 

None of these process steps involves the use of sodium chloride. Calcium- and Magnesium salts (CaSO4, MgCl2) are used in the preparation of Tofu, to coagulate soymilk in a first process step. Salt may be added for seasoning at a later stage of the production process.

Acceptance for plant-based meat is very high. Tofu derived from soybeans is perhaps the most widely recognized meat alternative. It is a high protein product widely consumed in Asian countries especially among vegetarians. It is increasingly consumed in the US and Europe among vegetarians and parts of the population wanting to reduce meat in their diets. Tempeh is a popular fermented food in Indonesia. The consumption of tempeh has been increasing rapidly, not only in Indonesia, but also in the United States and Europe.

Vegetarian foods occupy a larger than ever shelf space in North American and European super markets due to environmental- and health concerns. It seems reasonable to expect that traditional and novel plant based meat substitutes will grow significantly in the next decades.

[1] Joshi, Vk & Kumar, Satish. (2016). Meat Analogues: Plant based alternatives to meat products- A review. international journal of food fermentation and technology. 5. 107-119. 10.5958/2277-9396.2016.00001.5.


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