Recreating animal muscle tissues from plants is like climbing a mountain – and this is why whole cuts have been referred to as the ‘holy grail’ of plant-based meat. While most vegan meat companies stick to mince, these six startups are succeeding in replicating conventional whole-cut beef without any animal ingredients.
Plant-based companies have mastered the burger. Even the chicken nugget. But it’s the next step that’s proved the most challenging – and exciting. Whole cuts have their own charm and there’s no substitute for the textural complexities they present to the eater. So why should non-meat-eaters miss out?
These are a few companies that ensure they don’t.
Juicy Marbles, Slovenia
First off, what a name! The Slovenian food tech brand takes the crown in my super-important (to me) plant-based meat nomenclature rating list.
Launched in 2021, Juicy Marbles (which has raised $4.5M in total funding so far) makes an “ultra-tender” plant-based whole-cut filet mignon using its patent-pending ‘reverse grinder’ tech that mimics the muscle texture and marbling of conventional steak. It does so with soy and wheat proteins infused with beetroot powder, yeast extract and other natural flavours. There’s also sunflower oil, carrageenan and Big Meat enemy methylcellulose, and it’s fortified with iron and vitamin B12.
One whole tenderloin, which comes in at 756g, sets you back $60. That’s about $10 for six thick-cut steaks. Speaking of, the brand sells thick-cut steaks in addition to the loin, and will soon launch the world’s first plant-based pork ribs with edible bones (yes, you read that right). You can buy its products online in the US, UK and EU, as well as select retailers (including Waitrose in the UK).
In her review for Green Queen, our writer Amy Buxton put it succinctly: “I’ve eaten beef that tasted less like beef than this beetroot-infused soy protein did.” Now that’s a steak that will have you clutching your, erm, juicy marbles.
Chunk Foods, Israel
Iron Man loves this meat. What else is there to say?
Robert Downey Jr’s FootPrint Coalition-backed Israeli startup Chunk Foods makes whole ‘chunks’ of vegan steak from cultured soy and wheat. The whole-cut filet mignon is fortified with vitamin B12 and iron too, and undergoes a solid-state fermentation process.
Chunk Foods’ plant-based beef has appeared on the menus of several New York City restaurants, including Coletta, Anixi and The Butcher’s Daughter. And earlier this month, it became the first vegan steak to appear on the menu of a steakhouse chain in the US, after it collaborated with Charley’s Steak House in Orlando.
The whole-cut meat does cost $69 at the Florida eatery, but that’s on par with most of the other steaks on the menu. And it won the ‘Plant Based Meat Product of the Year’ at the fourth annual AgTech Breakthrough Awards this month. Chunk Foods, which has secured $17M in total funding, is also working on pork, lamb and poultry alternatives.
Redefine Meat, Israel
With total investment of $180M, Israeli startup Redefine Meat is one of the most well-known whole-cut alt-meat players, using 3D printing to develop fibres that resemble animal muscle tissues. And the 2018-founded company makes whole-cut beef tenderloin and lamb flanks so good that it has the attention of multiple Michelin-starred chefs and restaurants.
Perhaps most notable is Marco Pierre White, whose star gave rise to the celebrity chef genre. The British chef created two recipes with Redefine Meat’s steak and added them to the menu of his 40-strong restaurant estate in the UK. French chef Alexis Gauthier, who famously turned his Michelin-starred Soho flagship in London fully vegan, also put Redefine Meat’s steak on his tasting menu.
Other high-end locations to serve Redefine’s products include Ron Gastrobar locations across Amsterdam, Hotel Montefiore in Tel Aviv, and Burger Bear, Chotto Matte and Selfridges in London. Globally, you can find Redefine Meat’s products in 1,872 locations.
Green Rebel, Indonesia
Indonesian plant-based giant Green Rebel‘s product portfolio is vast: from whole-food plant-based proteins and vegan cheese to whole-cut meats and vegan fried eggs. It has also collaborated with global brands like Starbucks, IKEA, Nando’s and AirAsia.
In 2021, it unveiled Asia’s first plant-based whole-cut beef and chicken steaks. While the chicken was created with soy protein, the Beefless Steak combines soy protein with shiitake mushrooms. Apart from that, it contains only seaweed flour, coconut oil, natural seasonings and water.
Green Rebel, which is reading for a Serie A after closing an oversubscribed $10M pre-A round, first launched into two of Indonesia’s largest steakhouse chains, ABUBA Steak and Pepper Lunch. Now, its products are available in a wide range of retailers and restaurants across Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.
A Catalan brand that first shot to fame in 2018 for its 3D-printed whole-cut vegan steak, Novameat also claims to be the world’s first alt-meat brand to encapsulate all five kingdom classifications with its super-hybrid recipe for its 3D-printed blue-coloured, cell-based steak.
But when it comes to plant-based meat, In 2020, Novameat produced its second version of the whole-cut steak, calling it the “most realistic” alternative yet. It used a combination of tissue engineering and technology that enabled micro-structured tridimensional 3D printing, with pea, rice and algae fibre protein and a combination of fats and colourings.
With all-time funding of over $6M, Novameat’s portfolio includes plant-based shredded beef, chicken fillets, pulled chicken and turkey pastrami, and at this year’s Future Food Tech conference in San Francisco, it showcased its Nova Beef, which resembled conventional short ribs.
Project Eaden, Germany
Launching into a media maelstrom after some time stealth with a seed funding round that brought in its total investment to €10.1M ($11M) this January, German startup Project Eaden is banking on its technological prowess for its plant-based steak. The company says its novel bio-fibre tech is similar to fibre-spinning for synthetic fibre, which is used across other industries like textiles, aviation and automotive.
Project Eaden is using the same technology for meat – and says it’s highly scalable and affordable, claiming these fibres can be designed with precision to meet technical requirements, including elasticity, water-binding ability and strength. The ultra-thin fibres are bundled into strands mimicking conventional muscle tissues and then blended with vegetable fats for a near-identical vegan marbled steak.
The company says it plans to go to market at the end of the year, According to a January announcement, the company will begin prototype production in a laboratory soon, before moving to a highly automated production facility. Currently, you can sign up to be the first to try its “ultra-realistic” vegan steak.
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