Everything you need to know about the vegan steaks that 'bleed'

Photo via Vivera

Everything you need to know about the vegan steaks that 'bleed'

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Everything you need to know about the vegan steaks that 'bleed'

There’s never been a better time to go vegan. Gone at long last are the days of tofu scrambles and stir-fried seitan on repeat, six days a week. New, innovative plant-based proteins are flying out of development straight onto restaurant menus and grocery store shelves left and right. The question now isn’t whether people are interested in plant-based ‘meats,’ but rather how on earth companies can keep up with demand for them.

Dutch plant-based food manufacturer, Vivera recently announced its first 100% plant-based steak would debut as an exclusive item at London-area Tesco grocery stores, and all 40,000 of the ‘steaks’ were sold during their first weekend on shelves. Vivera is said to be increasing production in order to get its steaks back in stores, but while the company is busy with that, we thought we’d ask, what the heck is a vegan steak?

Plant-based steaks, or at least these record-breaking cuts from Vivera, are composed primarily of soy and wheat protein, along with coconut oil, barley extract and wheat starch. The inclusion of beetroot in the mix creates a cut of meat that remains pink in the center, and actually even “bleeds” when cut into.

Vivera is transparent about its ingredients, but is keeping its production methods to itself. One thing the company would share, however, is that these steaks aren’t created by a popular method of faux-meat production called extrusion, a process that involves pushing heated vegetable protein mash through a rotating tube. Mmm, enticing!

Vivera’s zeitgeist-inducing steaks are hardly the only option out there. Though they haven’t achieved quite the same level of breakthrough success, companies like Sgaia and Vegusto both have similar plant-based products out there. But it’s Vivera’s actual steak-like consistency, coloration, and ability to “bleed” when cooked correctly that have some calling this the Holy Grail of plant-based proteins. Men’s Health even called it “barely distinguishable from real steak in taste, texture and smell.” It appears that the company has cracked the code on a vegan product that mimics steak, the demand for which will only drive more meat substitutes to market.

The explosive popularity of Vivera in Europe mirrors something we’re seeing back here in the states; namely the rise of vegan butchers. Couple that with a burgeoning vegan bar scene, and even celebrities like Beyonce developing vegan lifestyle companies, and it’s hard to imagine that this is just a flash in the pan we’re seeing.

“Accessibility will no longer be a barrier for anyone wanting to embrace a healthier and more compassionate way of eating that actually tastes amazing and isn’t just boring and bland,” said Derek Sarno, Tesco’s Director of Plant-Based Innovation. “This is here to stay and, and it’s far beyond a trend.”

You don’t need to go vegan just for moral reasons, though those are considerable for many people. Reducing animal protein consumption has a number of significant health benefits on the human body. According to studies, red meat consumption contributes to the risk of cancer in the oesophagus, lungs, pancreas, stomach, collorectum, endometrium, and prostate. Meat-centric Western diets are also linked to increased levels of breast cancer in women.

Vivera may be missing from grocery store shelves at the moment, but the company announced that it will ramp up production on several million steaks by the year’s end. It hasn’t announced a U.S. distributor just yet, but with numbers like these, it’s difficult to imagine there isn’t a partnership waiting somewhere in the wings.

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