Scientists from ETH Zürich in Switzerland have developed a new kind of plant-based meat that is made from pea-protein.

The plant-based steaks from pea protein accurately imitate the marbling of real steaks, scientists from ETH Zürich in Switzerland claim. The fake steak uses pea protein for the red ‘flesh’ and an oil-in-water emulsion, with additives such as vitamins, for the spindly lines of white fat. Since the emulsion’s fat content can be reduced significantly, the plant-​based steak is healthier than the animal-​based original, as well as more ethical.

The steak will be ‘market-ready’ in a year’s time, although it’s unknown exactly when it will be available in the UK.

The project is being led by Mar­tin Hof­mann, a material scientist at ETH Zürich in Switzerland.
Hofmann isn’t a vegan or even a vegetarian; he’s just a meat-eater who intends to reduce meat consumption and switch to a more plant-based diet. “I’d like to help launch a healthy, environmentally and animal-​friendly substitute for high-​quality meat that tastes like the animal-​based original,” Hofmann said. “Nature took its time to create bovine muscle tissue. Recreating it requires a great deal of research.”

How are the vegan marbled steaks made?

For his plant-based steak, Hofmann combines pea protein with carrot, pea and wheat fibres, as well as oil, water, flavours and spices.cBoth the pea protein mixture and the fake animal fat (oil, water and additives such as vitamins) are then forced into their own specially designed tubes. Unlike conventional 3D printing techniques, the tubes continuously force the protein dough and the fat out like playdough and into an attachment consisting of two flat pieces of glass. Hofmann’s specially-created software controls the merging process. This way, the pea protein and the fat are intermingled to recreate the random marbling patterns of high-quality meat.

What is beef marbling?

Marbling is the webbing of creamy white fat that riddles a cut of beef, which gives it high tenderness, juiciness and richness. When marbling is high, as in Japanese Kobe beef, the meat is considered to be of the highest quality. Marbling is such an important quality characteristic of steaks that producers give their cuts a ‘beef marbling score’ (BMS). In Japan, the BMS scale goes from three (the basic minimum of marbling a steak should have) to 12 (almost white with marbling).

Hofmann now aims to bring his method to market and founded a spin-off as part of a support programme at ETH Zürich. Rather than produce and sell plant-based steaks himself, he plans to help other companies produce authentic plant-based alternatives to high-quality meat with his production technology. “I want to make it a little easier for people to give up cheap, factory-farmed meat,’ he said.

There are already plenty of fake meat products available in supermarkets today; however plant-​based alternatives for high-​quality meat products such as steak have not been readily available, according to Hof­mann. There is also an ongoing effort to recreate meat products as closely as possible, so that a taster wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the real thing and a plant-based imitator.

This isn’t the first marbled vegan steak; last year, Juicy Marbles, a firm based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, unveiled its vegan filet mignon steaks that are marbled with sunflower oil. Rather than using 3D printing or scaffolding, Juicy Marbles uses a patent-pending machine to align the ‘meat’ fibre layers from the bottom up.

Researchers at Osaka University in Japan have also developed a technique to 3D print stem cells from Waygu cows. While such a technique is more ethical than slaughtering cattle, meat created in a lab from animal cells is not vegetarian, a recent study concluded.

Original source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk