Why Plants? It’s sustainable, healthier for you and the technology is so advanced, it might actually taste like meat very soon.
With my talk with Ken Botts, the Policy Manager for Humane Society (or as I call it, a passionate vegan educator), you can definitively feel that plant proteins are on the rise and more importantly, the innovations that come with it. I consider Ken to be on the cutting edge for all that is happening with plant proteins.
Big players are now noticing the power of plants. For example, Tyson foods is now investing money into companies like Beyond Meat because they see the market is there.
There are currently two dominant companies in the “I can’t believe it’s not meat” space. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Both are actually in California like a good old fashion NorCal vs SoCal debate. I think this type of technology is necessary to have competitors that push each other. Both are ethically sound companies that are doing things for a great cause and time will definitely tell.
Though not much talked about, I feel that this will be a huge trend in the future. It’s already popping up. Potatoes and nuts seem to be the forerunner of making deliciously creamy vegan cheese and Ken has plenty of recipes exploring this.
For example, in the interview, he says the following:
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Cashew Milk + Probiotics + a couple weeks = Cashew Cheese
Potatoes and Carrots, blend them and create cheese. People are actually doing this right now!
Socially Conscious Food
Hampton Creek is trying to make “Just” happen. And it’s true, the social cause for reducing animal products is huge and things with a societal component make it a good cause.
They are the masters of marketing. I have never ever seen a plant protein product that is marketed so well. Not only is their branding simple and hits home, but taking a full page in the New York Times ads telling young people to change the world is pretty inspiring.
If you were to start your own food company and hammer down on a social cause (saving the environment, fair trade, etc), then you need to follow Hampton Creek’s model in terms of marketing. Like, follow their every move.
On the flip side, there are more and more food companies that are taking a tech approach to making products. Basically, using strategies in the tech realm such as Minimal Viable Product and virility to succeed in the marketplace. Perception has been great for their target market, but the food industry has been questioning these new motives.
It’s not going to stop, and you will be seeing a lot more of it.
The Year of Pulses
Pulses are like lentils, peas, stuff like that. I first heard of the term “year of the pulses” when I was introduced to bean protein at work. Though there might not be so much publicity on Facebook, food scientists are hard at work creating amazing plant innovations. So many new proteins have come out and their functionalities are amazing. I think it will be the big players that will be launching new pulse products just because it’s easy for these companies to get these functional ingredients.
However, there is still tons of innovation starting in the pulse area even in the start-up and food service level. With pulses being packed in protein, extremely sustainable, and very filling, I expect next year to be full of plant products.
Chickpea water has been sweeping the internet sporadically and can be a crazily easy way to replace egg whites. I actually went to a local sweets show in Phoenix and they were serving vegan meringues. When I asked what they had in them, they said, chickpeas!
Talking with Ken, many farmers such as tobacco farmers are switching to Chickpeas now. So you are going to see a lot more chickpea stuff in the future.
BONUS: Clean Meats – Lab Grown Meat
So this isn’t a plant, but it fits the same vein. People were on fire about the $10,000 burger made in the Netherlands that was made in a lab and not from killing a cow.
Under a different, less Frankenstein name, Clean Meats, Cultured Meats or Lab-Grown meats are designed to be meat that can be created by bioreactors. The purpose, of course, is sustainability.
In a perfect world, this would replace meat and as long as people cannot tell the difference between lab grown meat and slaughtered meat, then this would save millions of lives in the long run. Both animal and humans.
Overall, the rise of alternative proteins is very exciting and it’s just the beginning. This is probably going to be the hottest thing around in the next decade just because of their ability to not only feed the world, but to save it.