The loveliest trick that vegan food plays on any language-oriented mind is its funny way of naming products. “Chicken-free mock chicken,” for example. Or “beefless beef.” (When a friend told me there was really such a thing as “eggless egg,” my non-plant-based brain simply could not compute).
The latest thing to go vegan-viral is yet another offering from Beyond Meat, the wildly profitable plant-based protein company that makes meatless alternatives to things like beef and pork. The company has decided to invest in a new and promising venture: vegan bacon and vegan steak.
But, how?! Beyond Meat, which was founded in 2009, already has a number of other mind-boggling products — faux ground beef, plant-based burgers, vegan sausages — that it makes from combinations of things like pea proteins, coconut oil, and other ingredients like potato starch and apple extracts.
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The company says its burgers are healthier than regular beef is, but it hasn’t been around long enough for nutritionists to dissent or agree.
A date for the steak/bacon “drop” hasn’t yet been announced, nor is it clear whether it will come to Canada, but CEO Ethan Brown told CNN Business that the items are still in their development stages, and that company researchers would require a “surprise breakthrough” if they were to launch anytime in the near future.
Obviously, there’s a huge demand for meatless meat. Beyond Meat’s stock has gone up more than 700 per cent since its stock-market debut in May, and has been quickly invading food chains across North America, like Dunkin’ Donuts and A&W. Quesada has Beyond Meat burritos. Tim Hortons just released a Beyond Meat burger for $5.69 a pop.
All of that is to say that if there was ever a time to go vegan, or to already be vegan, it might be right now, in a moment where companies are clamouring to produce alternatives for things you couldn’t possibly have imagined there were alternatives for.
Impossible Foods, for example, true to its name and its competition with Beyond Meat, is currently working on a “fishless fish.” It’s a trompe l’oeil (trompe goût?) that serves an environmental purpose. What do you call something that looks like a fish, tastes like a fish, but isn’t a fish? Easy: you call it “vegan.”