Most realistic’ plant-based steak revealed - Africa Green Magazine

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Most realistic’ plant-based steak revealed


Most realistic’ plant-based steak revealed

Vegan alternatives to meat are popular but recreating the texture of steak is challenging

The “most realistic” plant-based steak to date has been revealed, mimicking the texture and appearance of a real cut of meat.

The fake steak’s ingredients include pea, seaweed and beetroot juice, which are extruded into fine fibres to recreate muscle tissue. Its producer, the Spanish company Novameat, says the steak will be available in some restaurants in Spain and Italy this year before scaling up in 2021.
The enormous impact of cattle and other livestock on the environment has led a swathe of companies to create plant-based alternatives to meat, with the Beyond Meat burger and Greggs sausage roll among the vegan successes. But recreating the texture of whole cuts of meat is far more challenging than ground meat.

“I started with steak I think because it is the holy grail of plant-based meat,” said Giuseppe Scionti, founder of Novameat. “It is the most difficult.” The company unveiled a 3D-printed steak in 2018, but the new steak has both the firm, fibrous texture and meaty appearance of a real steak, he said, making it the “most realistic” to date.
The company is still experimenting with the taste, but Scionti said the company’ can use the ingredients already used to create convincing beefy burgers from plants. He expects a final formulation in the next few months.

The key to the new steak is patented micro-extrusion technology that produces fibres between 100 and 500 microns in diameter. This allows the complex structure of real meat to be replicated, with muscle fibres and fat entwined. Existing extrusion technology produces much larger fibres.
The 50g steak produced cost $1.50 (£1.15) to make, similar in price to current supermarket steak in the UK. But Scionti said the cost will drop when the process is scaled up. The company plans to commission a pilot plant in 2021 which can produce 50kg of steak per hour. But to reach a mass market, the company plans to licence its technology to existing food manufacturers who can develop their own recipes.
 A well done Novameat steak. Photograph: Novameat
Some plant-based alternatives to meat have been criticised for being as high in fat and salt as the food they are intended to replace. Scionti said plant-based alternatives do not contain cholesterol or the hormones and antibiotics often found in real meat. In future, he said, beneficial ingredients such as omega-3 fatty acids could be added.

Novameat is not alone in developing plant-based steaks, with Israel-based Redefine Meat being a leading competitor. Unlike Novameat’s product, the Israeli company’s meat has been publicly tasted, receiving positive feedback, but the firm has not yet revealed a textured steak.
Others include Atlast Food, which is using a fungus fibres to create textures similar to meat, and Emergy Foods. Another Israeli company, Aleph Farms, has produced a steak from real beef cells cultured in a laboratory, which, the firm says, will have a much lower environmental footprint than real meat.

There is definitely a role for technology that can structure both plant-based and lab-grown meat into more complex products, said Rosie Wardle, at the Jeremy Coller foundation and advisor for CPT Capital, which has invested in Redfine Meat. “I’ve eaten early versions of the Redefine products and they were truly delicious,” she said.
Novameat has attracted investment from New Crop Capital, a firm that also invests in some of the best known plant-based and lab-grown meat companies, including Beyond Meat, Memphis Meat and Mosa Meat.
David Welch, at the Good Food Institute, which works with scientists and entrepreneurs to create alternatives to animal products, said: “To meet the growing global demand for meat with more sustainable plant-based products, we need to deliver the taste, texture, and appearance that meat eaters want.”

He said new technologies such as Novameat’s bioprinting are useful: “They give plant-based meat manufacturers a wider array of tools to mimic all types of meat and seafood.” Scionti said the company aims to produce pork and salmon in the future.
Recent scientific studies have found that huge reduction in meat-eating in rich nations is essential to cut greenhouse gas emissions and fight the climate crisis.

“We believe it is important to provide an alternative,” said Scionti, who spent a decade researching tissue engineering at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona and other institutions. “This will help in the long term to decrease the need for land, water, energy and, of course, reduce the emissions coming from animal agriculture.

“We want to be better than the other companies,” he said. “But we are all in the same boat. We want to be remembered for doing something good at this moment when the planet needs alternatives to meat. ”


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