Fake Meat: Even a Chef Can be Fooled

Fake Meat: Even a Chef Can be Fooled

Making tasty fake meat is both an art and a science, and a new production method is key to mimicking protein in a precise fashion.

From aligning the plant fibers in look-alike muscles to creating satisfying texture and taste, plant-based food production has reached a new level. No longer limited to vegetarians, the market has expanded to include even the most discerning foodies.

Video Spotlights:

This post is based on the Bloomberg article, The secret to making fake meat you want to eat, by M. Ellwood, September 13, 2018; the CNBC article and video, The fight against ‘fake meat’ has officially begun, by J. Urbi, February 23, 2018; and the YouTube video, Jaap Korteweg I am a Vegetarian Butcher TEDxEde 2014 Legendado V2, by talhovegetariano, December 1, 2014. Image source: Tomacco/Getty Images.


Discussion Questions:

1. What are the environmental forces that led to the creation of this product?

Guidance: Forces include societal trends (animal rights movement, growing appeal of vegetarianism), technology (new equipment), weak competition in high-quality fake meat market, and expanding consumer markets with potential for new “converts.”

2. What were the quality challenges for this food product?

Guidance: See the list of product quality dimensions in your textbook. Performance (taste, texture), appearance (must look “real”), perceived quality (image), and consistency are the most salient quality dimensions posing a challenge.

3. In light of the dairy industry push against non-dairy milk, do you think that regulation against the “meat” appellation is warranted? Do you expect that other types of regulations will constrain the industry in the future?

Guidance: Watch the video from CNBC for the definition of ‘meat’. If almond milk is not milk, then soy-based meat is not meat. Even the term “vegetarian butcher” may be controversial. The market may still be too small to trigger a major legal challenge, but if the popularity of the product grows, poultry and cattle producers will join forces to push back against this new competition. Furthermore, as the industry grows, new regulations will require more stringent quality standards.

4. Is this product consistent with the current trends in organic, unadulterated, farm-to-table foods?

Guidance: Discuss pros and cons of this product. Although this product is animal- and environment-friendly (less animal waste and methane gas), it is highly processed. The article mentions fillers and shows pictures of industrial, mass production. The product is therefore aligned with some societal trends (see Question 1), but not all. As a result, it is expected to capture only a niche of the health-conscious market.


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