“It’s not about having to replace everything that people appreciate in a cow. But we have to replace enough of the profitable products of a cow that it becomes unprofitable to raise many cows. “ Pat Brown, founder of the US company Impossible Foods, which produces plant burgers, is no longer just about an alternative to animal foods He explained this in an interview in the new January issue of Technology Review (available at the well-stocked kiosk or ordered online).
The key to this are three characteristics: “If we can offer a cheaper, tastier, healthier product to consumers, I am confident that most consumers will prefer it to conventional meat. And if nobody buys the products of animal agriculture, then there will be no incentive to continue to colonize the planet with cows. ”
More than minced meat replicas
The biochemist Patrick Brown is regarded as an outstanding scientist who is responsible for groundbreaking work in genomics. In 2011, the then professor at Stanford University founded Impossible Foods. Its ground beef alternative contains hemoprotein made from genetically modified yeasts.
So far, the vegetable meat industry has only been able to realistically reproduce minced meat. Brown knows that he has to offer a lot more than just burger meatballs to achieve his goal. That is why Impossible Foods is working on creating steaks, chicken breasts and lamb chops from plant-based raw materials. “If we look at a piece of muscle tissue from a cow, pig, chicken, halibut or even a fruit fly under the electron microscope, they all look very similar. So if you solve the problem for one type of meat, you have 95 percent solved for each type of meat, ”says Brown.
The way to get there is still complicated, because all these meat varieties have different components: fat tissue, loose connective tissue, tight connective tissue and the muscle tissue itself. For a really good steak, you have to get this muscle structure and texture so that it has the right mechanical properties.
Connective tissue, for example, is like a nonwoven made of proteins. In the case of adipose tissue, on the other hand, its mechanical properties, melting behavior and taste chemistry are important. “ That is a fine art from the field of engineering and materials science,” says Brown.