History of Meatless Meats
Over the past several years and, in particular, over the past year, meatless meats and meat substitutes have been rising in popularity. There are a number of reasons for this, including increasing concerns for the environment, cost, and health benefits; and several companies have emerged to fill the market, including Impossible Meats and Beayond Meat.
OVERALL MARKET SIZE AND GROWTH
- Globally, the "real" meat industry is worth $1.4 trillion currently. However, experts believe that, within the next decade, meatless meat "could capture about 10 percent" of that amount.
- Specifically, the meatless meat industry is expected to reach $140 billion by 2029.
- According to researchers at Barclays, "while lab-based meat is still likely several years away from hitting supermarket shelves, plant-based protein continues to gain ground vs. its animal-based counterpart, and we expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future".
- Alternatively, the market for "textured vegetable protein, tofu, tempeh, seitan, and other plant-based sources" is expected to reach $7.5 billion by 2025.
INTEREST IN MEAT ALTERNATIVES
- For a variety of reasons, Americans are becoming increasingly interested in more plant-based diets, including meat substitutes and imitation meats.
- According to a recent survey on the subject from Nielson, "39 percent of Americans are actively trying to eat more plant-based foods".
- Some of the reasons for increased interest in reducing meat consumption are the environmental impact of producing and eating meat, health concerns, and cost.
- Despite this increased interest in meal alternatives though, "the average consumer will eat 222.2 pounds of red meat and poultry this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture".
- Perhaps the two most well-known companies in the meat substitute space are Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, both of which have soared in popularity over the past year.
- Beyond Meat went public in May 2019, initially selling their stock for $25. However, due to extreme popularity, the stock has since jumped to $169 per share, giving the company "a market capitalization of more than $10 billion".
- Alternatively, "Impossible Foods closed an additional $300 million in investor funding".
- Both brands are being sold by a number of fast food chains, including McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, and KFC.
TIMELINE AND NOTABLE MOMENTS
- While imitation meat didn't debut until many years later, tofu and seitan have been available as viable meat substitutes since about 535 B.C.E.
- Seitan was discovered in 535 B.C.E. by Chinese cooks, and was used because of its texture, which is similar to that of meat.
- Seitan became popularized when Chinese cooks realized "that wheat flour can be soaked in water and rinsed until all the starches wash away, leaving a matrix of gluten proteins behind".
- Years later, tofu was discovered in China as well.
- Although the discovery wasn't documented until 965 C.E., it's possible that people have been eating tofu since around 164 B.C.E.
- While tofu was found to be cheaper and more readily available than seitan, its texture was further from that of meat.
- The earliest form of imitation meat in the western world was protose (also called nuttose), which was created by John Harvey Kellogg — the leader of Battle Creek Seventh-Day Adventist Church — in the late 1800s.
- Protose is composed of peanut butter, mashed beans, water, corn starch, onion, sage, and salt. The mixture is then steamed to create imitation meat.
- Because of the strong flavors in the ingredient, protose tasted primarily of peanut butter.
- While this early form of imitation meat tasted nothing like the food it was meant to replicate, "a growing vegetarian movement had taken hold of the country" and this "healthy" alternative to real meat grew in popularity.
- Though protose would likely not be billed as healthy today, it was one of about 100 recipes created by Kellogg which he marketed as "healthy".
LOMA LINDA FOODS
- In the early 1930's, a company called Loma Linda Foods began to release "some of the first commercially available soy- and wheat-based fake meats".
- The company first opened in 1890 and quickly became "a leader in sustainable foods".
- Today, the company markets and sells a number of meatless recipes, meals, and alternatives, such as "tuno" which is an alternative to tuna and a plant-based taco filling.
FAST-FOOD VEGGIE BURGERS
- In 2002, Burger King released the first fast-food veggie burger in the United States, called the BK Veggie Burger.
- Later that year, McDonalds followed suit, releasing a veggie burger which they'd already been selling in the UK, the Netherlands, and India since the early 1990's.
- The burger contained 330 calories and sold for $1.99.
- The full meal included "a patty made of vegetables, grains and spices, the same four-inch sesame-seed bun used for the chain's hamburgers, shredded lettuce, two tomato slices and 3/8 of an ounce of reduced-fat mayonnaise".
ATLANTIC NATURAL FOODS
- One company selling a number of meat alternatives and imitation products is Linda Loma Foods, the parent company of which is Atlantic Natural Foods.
- The company produces a number of meatless meals, meat substitutes, imitation meats, and meatless recipes.
- Some examples of products sold by Linda Loma are "Tuno" which is a seafood alternative, "Big Franks" which are a plant-based alternative to hot dogs, and meatless sloppy joes.
- Perhaps the most "interesting" of these is Tuno, which is an imitation seafood. While imitation meats — such as burgers and chicken — have been rising in popularity, imitation seafood has been less available.
- While sushi may seem like something that cannot be substituted with a vegan alternative, one recipe has tried.
- Nigirizushi is perhaps the most well-known sushi in the world, involving "a slice of raw fish atop an oblong, compacted mound of rice". Typically, nigirizushi is served with a side of wasabi and seaweed.
- An alternative recipe for this utilizes watermelon, cantaloupe, or skinned red bell peppers, rice "mixed with a blend of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, a wee pinch of sea salt and ginger", and "a thinly sliced strip of nori seaweed".
PRIMAL SPIRIT FOODS
- Perhaps one of the most ubiquitous meat snacks is jerky, which is known entirely for being made of dehydrated meat. For this reason, the vegan alternative made by Primal Spirit Foods is one of the more interesting examples of meat substitutes on the market today.
- These "meatless vegan jerky" snacks are made from all vegan ingredients, including dehydrated vegetables, seitan, and soy.
- "Primal Strips are delicious, healthy, meat alternative snacks providing the positive health benefits of Soy, Seitan and Shiitake Mushrooms, all with full meaty satisfaction."
- The company offers a number of jerky flavors, including Thai peanut, mesquite lime, teriyaki, hot & spicy, and hickory smoked.