Israeli start-up Redefine Meat, which raised $6 million in seed funding in 2019, has an innovative solution to creating meat alternatives: 3D printing them. Today the company unveiled its "Alt-steak," a plant-based beef substitute complete with fat-like crevices. Redefine meat doesn't just want its product to taste like meat, it wasn't it to look the part.
Plant-based, meat alternatives are a burgeoning sector. The best-known players are Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, both of which have undertaken massive expansions in recent years as their popularity has grown and they've managed to get big-name retailers and fast food outlets to stock their products.
Redefine joins the growing list of companies trying to create meat alternatives that look and taste like meat in order to give those who feel they just can’t live without animal products in their diets alternative, cruelty-free, and — hopefully, ecologically sound — options. We didn't know we needed a 3D-printed steak, but we're happy to try it. We've got to admit we're less convinced about the name, though. But maybe that's just because of the current connotations of "alt" as a prefix. We blame Facebook for that one.
Tasty and affordable (or so they say) — Eshchar Ben-Shitrit, the CEO of Redefine Meat, told 3D Printing Industry that the goal was to recreate the steak in plant-based form without compromising taste or jacking up the price.
"Since day one of the company, we have been working on creating a tasty and affordable plant-based alternative to steaks, one of the most cherished food products and the driver of the entire meat industry," Ben-Shitrit explained. "To enable mass adoption, we knew that creating an alternative meat product that was both high in quality and nutritional composition would require new technologies and production processes never seen before in the food industry."
The secret ingredient — If you're impressed by how realistic the Alt-Steak looks, it's because Ben-Shitrit relied on 3D precision printing to get the perfect kind of color, consistency, and texture. He explained that his startup ensured that it used "separate formulations" to emulate the taste, flow, and other aspects of muscle, meat, fat, and even blood. As demonstrated in this video, emulating those components requires legumes, beans, hardened canola oil, coconut, and more. But, of course, no meat whatsoever.
A green dream — Redefine Meat insists that its Alt-steak is 95 percent more sustainable than conventional beef production. That's easy to believe. Mass production and consumption of conventional meat continue to take an unmistakable toll on earth, never mind the potential health risks that come from actually consuming the output of the meat industrial complex. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the outbreak has also disrupted supply chains in the meat industry, exposed its more unsustainable and volatile elements, and raised questions about whether the industry is a hotbed for transmission.
It will take time before we see the Alt-Steak offered at local restaurants and diners, but like Beyond and Impossible's products, once it can convince a few eateries to stock it, the floodgates could open.