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Brief Published: 31 Oct 2014

Meat-Free Future Products

Tomato Sushi

As vegetarianism becomes increasingly common in Western markets (one in eight UK consumers consider themselves vegetarian, according to global research firm Mintel), innovative start-ups are creating meat-free alternatives.

Stanford University scientist Patrick Brown has created the Impossible Cheeseburger, a vegetarian burger that replicates the texture of a traditional beef burger, even bleeding juices like real meat.

The burger is made entirely from plant matter but replicates the taste of beef because of the inclusion of the molecule heme, which is the main component of haemoglobin, and is found in blood cells as well as some plants.

"Our target is hard-core meat-eaters, and our goal is to produce the best burger they have ever tasted," Brown told website Fast Co-Exist. "Our ground beef sizzles, smells, feels and tastes just like ground beef from an animal."

In another development, American chef James Corwell has invented a sustainable sushi made from tomatoes.

The vegetarian sushi, which was successfully funded through crowdfunding website Kickstarter earlier this month, has a similar taste and texture to tuna, one of the most popular fish used to make the food.

According to the US-based science publication the Nature Journal, 90% of all large predatory fish, such as tuna and sea bass, have disappeared from the ocean due to overfishing, with many of those caught having not reached reproductive age. Corwell developed the idea while at a fish market in Tokyo where he witnessed two warehouses full of tuna sold in one morning.

As intensive meat and fish production methods become less tenable, vegetable and insect-based protein alternatives will be increasingly common. Read more in Food Vision 2014, Future Farming and Culinary Crickets.

The Impossible Burger